July 28, 2018:

Robert returns to New York, Vivienne comprises the homecoming party.

Brooklyn, Near Vinegar Hill.

Your typical pre-gentrification back alley.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Sara Pezzino, Adara Hong, Tom Judge, Curator, Lara Croft, C.C.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

A crammed sidestreet behind apartments and a lopsided bridgeway through Brooklyn, somewhere around Vinegar Hill. Expensive combined with high crime rates. The railing of a handicap ramp behind a red-brown structure thats been repurposed from old America factory to new age studio of some sort is where Robert leans.

Using the metal post as a support for his frame, one ankle crossed over the other with his headdown cast a bit, clawtips pinched together clutching a pouch hanging off of his neck. He looks his usual introspective and far-away, something those familiar with him have learned is quite commonplace for the mutant 'shaman'.

Dark hair hides his features but his senses are as acute as ever, head tipping slightly at the sound of rattling, a creature, unseen by normal eyes shambles by, harmless, visible only to those with the 'gift' to see between and beyond. A roaming entity, one set loose but not one that seeks to feed, harm, hurt or disrupt. A simple traveler. With quiet regard the shaggy beast and it's rattling adornment of chains cautiously walks by the Ghost Warrior.

Vivienne was not one of those rambling death, but she followed soon after. Dressed in her more demure armor, a trenchcoat rather than a cloak. Light, and fit for the warmer summer evening. She moved with a wary grace, as if she expected to be attacked at any moment, which, given the circumstances into which they had found themselves, well, it was a distinct possibility. It was difficult at best to miss that familiar figure, and so she did not, approaching from out of the shadows between streetlights and into the illumination, "Robert."

There is that spared nod from Robert towards the creature, no student of humans nor understanding such gestures it doesn't return it but drifts past. Ripclaw studies it then resumes his intent stare upon the satchel at his neck, "Vivienne." He says with more warmth in his voice than the atmosphere would dictate, that dark and gloomy with mystery meetings. This looks more to set up a late night drug deal or some clandestine conspiracy for ill intent. tt is neither, of course.
"New perfume?"

"I thought I would wear something new for the season." It had barely been the fullness of spring, when they saw each other last, and what would a Frenchwoman be without her signature scent. Of course, it would potentially also be to save her from the sulfur smell of demons. Eh, half dozen of one…She approaches, offering a hand, eyes falling to the satchel, "Something you brought back from your journeys?" And she knew that look in his eyes, seeing without needing to see. "If it plans to jump out at me, you'll let me know, right?"

"Seasonal. I can understand that." A bear totem for a spirit and metamorphic basis, why not. Makes an odd sense to him on a primal level even. "Something old but there are additions to it, recent ones. Yes." He lets it hang down so it falls back upon the thong around his neck, being tucked away.

"Nothing should. We're in a neutral territory as far as I am aware. I'm not in any particular state to be fighting at more than forty percent, it would be on you and what sort of gentleman would that make me?"

Vivienne, seeing her hand ignored, allowed it to drop back to her side, settling into a comfortable conversational distance from the man, rather than moving to stand beside him by the railing, "All that you are missing is something borrowed and something blue." There was a faint trace of amusement in her tone, before that quieted as well, "It would make you someone who realizes that they cannot, under some circumstances, do everything by themselves."

Robert hadn't paid enough mind to the hand, not because of straight up ignoring but his far-away mentality right now, still pulling himself in from losing ones self in to the sight. Hes not so gifted to separate both at times. His eyes rise up to study Vivienne as she speaks as if expecting she may look different.

"What? No, this is sacred not… funny."He catches himself at the end, "I forget you have jokes in there."

"Its something I remind myself time to time. It has been some time since we caught up, we're overdue. Allies, companions and good friends are too far and few anymore."
"You have been well?"

Vivienne did not, in point of fact, look any different than she ever had. She rarely took injuries that left their mark in the best of times. Who needed plastic surgery when you had divine blood, "I have had to develop it in the last few months. I believe we have been as busy here as you were there." Wherever that there was. "I've missed you." A true and honest thing. Her life had not changed so much that anything else of note had happened in her life, "You went where I could not follow." She glances down along the road, marking the approach on both sides, before she looked back, "fewer than even I expected."

"Several places but largely midwest of all things." Ripclaw grunts at that, "I'm glad to hear that, I didn't think many back this way have some times." There is an awkard moment for him where his hand rises up and he looks like he wants to give her a hug but somewhere pauses between stepping to her and lifting up that metallic talon capped palm. It slaps back down to his side and he offers a light smile at her, "I often do. It's been something I am known for… I suppose I should have warned you. My family, my brother and sister SHOC refugees, they learned this but then, we're a shade more loose wired and bound enough its just… "

Realizing how he sounds Robert adds, "I missed you as well."

"Did you see anything besides corn? I have only ever seen corn in the Midwest. Although, I admit, I have only ever seen it on television. Corn, and cows. And cows with corn." Vivienne marked the lift of Robert's hand, a frown crossing her expression, before she did what he had not done, and stepped forward, bridging the distance between them to slip her arms around the man, either completely oblivious to the claws or completely trusting. Her grip was tight, her head turned to his chest, "Well, you're back now. Welcome home." And if this was not truly his home, well, what of that? It was where she knew him to be.

"Lots of corn." Robert admits, "Not why I was there though despite all the different thrilling kinds of it." He jokes back dryly, though hes hosting a light smile. Then shes hugging him tightly and his muscular limb encircles her in a returned crush, letting her mold against him a moment while bladed fingers lightly rake through hair then hes pressing a palm to her shoulder, "A hug. It beats the alternative. Thank you for the warm welcome. Are you okay, nothing I should know about happened?" Not unexpected of a man who isn't used to warmth, the most he ever gets is from Velocity who is all heart, hugs and cheer more often than not.

"Probably because you forgot to pack shelf-stable butter." Vivienne, feeling the palm on her shoudler stepped back, releasing him easily enough. There was, after all, only so far that her humanity could go to bridge the divide his inumnaity had created. "I am certain you had work of some sort." She indicated the bag around his neck, "You would not have added to that, if it had been a pleasuable idyll." She shook her head, "To me, personally? Nothing dangerous…wel, more dangerous than the normal. I have offered sanctuary, at need, to one of the members of the Justice League, Caitlin Fairchild at the loft. The rise in demonic activity…I am sure that Strange told you. But…Robert." Viviennes's voice grew serious. "Tom Judge holds a piece of the Angelus. One of her swords, do you remember? The day we first met, when he and I fought one of her warriors? and she has been sending her warriors, repeatedly, to attempt to take it from him. He will not surrnder it." Another pause, "Also, I believe I have seen the wielder of the Ember Stone."

"How'd you know?" Robert inquires then his hand lightly pushes her back enough he can look at her again, not just the top of her head. Its at times as though physical affection makes the man uncomfortable but then, she also knows he has a overexaggerated self-conscious fear of his own limbs dicing people up.

"Work for us and then some, yes."

The pouch brought attention to has him reaching up and tucking it further away, "Right."

"I don't know her or the name, I pay little attention to the celebrity heroes. Careful when you run in their circles, it makes what we do harder… they're not like us." He frowns, "The Angelus, yes, the Angels we keep fighting, you encountered their mistress finally?"

"We need to keep near him then, maybe he should be in your loft instead of Fairchild." Maybe more bite in that than he meant, not because of anything considered inappropriate but shes learning hes got some disdain for 'Big Damn Heroes' and those who 'walk in the light' "The Ember Stone… the piece Lara and I are after, were after, it may lead us to the Wheel of Shadows just its got some hoops clearly. We're making headway, has the Curator been in contact?"

"You do not strike me as the sort of man that packs luxuries in his travel bags. In would go butter and then you'd realize you left behind that extra magazine of ammunition you needed." Vivienne did not take the push back amiss, it was simply a part of coming to terms with Robert as he was, and not, perhaps, as she might ahve wished for him to be. She made no more mention not paid anymore attention to the pouch, but turned her conversation to other matters, "This was never about her being like us. She is a woman of faith who was and remains in crisis. I am not only a servant of the church, Robert, I am also a shepherd, as He was, though I am not often called to be so now. I offered her a place where she could stay if she were in trouble. I could not do otherwise, as she has also become a friend."

Vivienne shook her head, "No, the Angelus has not shown herself, she only sends warriors. The last time it happened, she destroyed the storefront for Tom's business. And they are not angels. They are simply her projection of her power, given a form which humans, in their ignorance believe to be holy. I did not see the Stone itself, but the woman we saw, a slight woman of asian descent, assumed the fire form I read about in the books you offered me at the Curator's shop. And no, I have not seen nor heard from him. As for Tom, the last time I left him with glass from the broken window in his back, and a curse on his lips. He despises me and the faith I hold which he lost long ago."

"Ammunition isn't in my travel bag either." Robert assures Vivienne playfully, the rail being reclaimed by his grasp with an audible 'clink' of his alien-metal digits. %R"Thats fine and well, just, keep her out of our business, if you would." He says quietly, somehow politely even. "Shepard all the strays you like but the more who know, the more loose ends and lips we end up with and right now, we're in no place to count heads."

"Thn, the same, they're just attacking with more focus and intent." Ripclaw makes a quiet sound, "We seek them both out then, I'll catch up with Tom and we find out if this woman is holding the Ember Stone for sure then determine if shes ally or enemy… sounds easy enough." Never is.

"It is when you travel with your team. The ones you share that safehouse with. How is C.C. by the way?" There was a look of affection on her face then. She had taken quite a shine to the anthropomorphic cat she and Lara had met. "I have given him an invitation to come and visit with me, but he had not yet taken me up on it." The injunction though, brought her expression to something more serious, "You have not been gone so long, I think, that you would have forgotten that I do not tell tails, nor forget what is and is not right to share with those outside of the group."

"He mentioned that they had attacked him on a number of occasions, and I tell you, Robert, there was a part of him that seemed to welcome it, as though he were challenging them to kill him if they could, because he did not have the strength to take his own life." A shake of her head, "I did not even have a chance to speak to her. But she fought the Angelus warrior with me, when Tom did not, and we defeated it together."

"He is fine, bored and in need of new video games. Vulgar as expected and mentioned some rather lewd greetings to fire your way when I seen you again." Typical of the reprogrammed android cat. Chip never should have been allowed to watch TED or Southpark or any manner of television popular today.

"I'll speak with Tom, I think he and I may have a less turbulent… medium than you and he, obviously."

"I know."

"Great, either a masochist or hes suicidal. We may need ourselves a psychiatrist involved with our 'crew' before long." An actual grin appears and he looks past her, at the alley for a moment. "I'm glad. Never fun to leave and return to find someone you ca.. have bonded with has been taken away."

"Well, then you all should let him out of his cage. You know I have plenty of room in the loft, and he could have the run of the place. I am certain getting out of sight should any visitors come over would not be a problem for him, the rafters, the closet, the fire escape. And it would be nice to have the company. Until he started trying to sneak and watch me in the shower." That was clearly intended to be a joke. Cats, though, were known to do strange things. "I think you might be the only one who can. He is lost, Robert, and having lost himself and his faith, he hates anyone who still believes. And the fact that I use my faith? That my very power comes from that God whom he has rejected? It only intensifies his anger. because how can he be right, and faith be a lie, if I am living proof that it is not?" Vivienne heard that final comment, the shift in his words, "We are all still here." A palm to ease that moment of discomfort.
"Not sure if that is wise. He'd likely demolish your loft." Robert says, "I'll toss the idea at Chip, maybe they could use a break from him. Which, that is also a concern, yeah, expect him to act out stupidly and rudely. It is part and parcel. If i was the wizard that Chip is I would fix him but the cat is too invaluable as family and a mechanic." Also added security where required.
"I'll try soon. It's not easy right now without knowing where Sara or Lara are, they were two of the first in this ordeal with me. One by one and now I worry the two of you are next."

"Faith can't be forced, even witnessed he has to let it in himself. You know that. As real as you are, you're still, someting else entirely. Maybe even more of a question to the devote or fallen… "
"Yeah. You are. We are."

"Perhaps he is simply acting out because he wishes to have some freedom. It is not easy to spend your life seeing, for the most part, only the same sights every day, growing up in the convent taught me that. I longed for the day when I could be free, and even with such an onus as has been placed on me, I had to be reined in once I was finally free."

"I have not seen Sara for some time, but I imagine if something we re terribly amiss, the police would have heard something, reported something, and there has been nothing. As for Tom, it is not about him finding faith. Something happened to him, I do not know when, I believe, he has alluded to it but never stated it outright, that caused him to lose his faith and now he hates anything to do with it, and me most of all."

"A possible. He is a struggled and broken sentience, born of whim and mood. It is no easy life for him but he still has spirit." Robert says with a smile again, a quiet fond one.

"We're to do with out her, we have done fine. I hear she transferred when I inquired, my status doesn't allow me to push beyond that. I prefer not being questioned for having the questions by some." Authority of any kind.
"You want to walk and talk some more? I had to see something here but it was irrelevant, maybe a bite to eat. I could use something that isn't chalk and orange juice."

"Tom, can't hate you if he gets to know 'you' and not just what you are or stand for. Give it time. I'll be the middle-man there and hopefully we can bridge that gap, we need unity if we are to withstand this alone and we need eachother, all of you, the artifact-bearers, you're more important in this than even I am."

Make sure, when you tell him that you have passed on his…greetings," Vivienne grinned then, "That he always has housespace with me. And that I make a fantastic peach cobbler." She stepped back, as Robert offered both a walk and a meal, allowing him to step down to the sidewalk, "Of course. I think I know a place not far from here that would be a safe space and with palatable food as well." These two ideas were not always a thing, it was usually one or the other. "He does not wish to get to know me. All he cares to know is that he hates everything that I am. In his way, he is no different than those humans who hate mutants or people such as yourselves and will not ever consider any other course but hate." At that last, she offers, "And what artifact does Lara bear?"
"Expect you won't be rid of him at this rate. He'll eat garbage food just to torment someone like you, Ballistic will be your best friend for taking him in." Robert is joking, the rough around the edges gunslinger has the same affection or C.C. that team is family in it's own twisted bio-metal way.

"Palatable." He repeats the word, toying with it. "Yeah, anything works. A burger is enough right not to feel like Heaven." He bumps his shoulder in to her as they walk, a light smile forming. "It is good to be around you again, I was feeling rather hopeless with Lara being taken but, shes strong and if anyone can save her, its us."

"You think so?" He trails about Tom, "I don't feel that from him, I could be wrong though, we will see. The humans that hate my kind, mutants, they're largely just scared or wounded, they don't know. Most often."

"None, I see your point. Shes got a spiritual pull to her though, a destiny force of sorts. Shes interwoven on a different level to all of this."

"I spend most of my days, when I am at home, rattling around the place alone. Let him decide. I will not mind the company." Vivienne stepped ahead, to lead the way, as she had the destination in mind. "More than palatable. I am French, and all. But I have simply found that most places where people like you and I are welcome tend to provide food that not even the truly desperate would wish to eat." Vivienne rocked to the side, at the gentle hit, a smile brightening her face as she walked, "Do you ever go to strip clubs, Robert, or mind them?" The question came out of the blue, but she asked it as though it were important.

"It is good to have you around again. I admit to having felt…more than a little lost without you." Vivienne's face hardened, not in anger, but with that edge of determination that spoke to more than the woman's sheer force of will, "We will get her back, Robert. If I have to march into hell itself." At the question of Tom, she shrugged, "I believe he is a man who is lost. he will not believe in redemption, even though the rapture is redemption made manifest. His power, among other things, after all, is not to send souls to hell, as, in a manner of speaking, mine might be, but to bring souls out of it." And then, with a slight snap in her voice, "You are not a mutant, Robert." And that was the heart of the thing. No matter what had been done to him, no matter what he had become, to Vivienne he was still a man, and still very much human. "Perhaps she does and it will be revealed to us in time."

"I'll talk with Chip and C.C. then." Robert promises a his hands reflexively ball up and thrust in to his pockets, tightening his light jacket across his shoulders in their stride.

"I do not mind them. Never thought much about it honestly nor do I make a habit of going to them, why do you ask? I am rather surprised at the question. Not some form of sin preach I just launched myself in to is it?" He taunts.

"I am like a gypsy, never touching down long but, I find myself unable to stay long from here. I think, you are quite stuck with me for some time."

"I know we will." He says quietly, the burden of this a lot in regards to responsibility. He promised Lara Croft once he would never let this happen to her, he would prepare her and hes feeling he has failed that.
"We'll find them both Tom just may have to do more the finding himself but we'll be there."

"I am by their standards, its why I was chosen." He grins, "If you want to get scientific… I'm a mutant, I'm a freak and I am half-out of this world at days, so you don't have to worry or begin political talk around my uh condition. It's lost on me. I accept and do not care for that, that shit is for X-Men and Brotherhood extremists. I have my own path."

"Oh, nothing at all like that. I try to make it a habit to lead by example, and not by the preaching of words." Vivienne paused, waiting for the light as they rounded the corner on the avenue. And as they approached, it might have become clearer why she had asked, as they seemed to be heading towards a, of all places, steakhouse and gentleman's club called Rachel's. Anyone who had heard of the place would know that it was, in point of fact, five star dining.

As they walked, Vivienne look across at Robert, something slightly softer in her voice, "I would not say stuck. I…would like for you to remain in my life as long as you choose to be." As for Lara, "We all knew the dangers when we decided to travel this road, Robert. We knew we would stumble, but we also knew that we would find the strength to pick ourselves and each other up and continue on."

"It has never been or will be, for me, about politics, but it is about humanity. It does not matter if you have one skill and I another, if some humans have power and others do not. We are all of us still human." Vivienne stepped inside, turnign to hold the door for Robert to step in as well, witohut needing to free his hadns to hold the door.

"We had an idea of the dangers but not all. We are a warband of our own making and fates nudging, I do not see us partying ways anytime soon." Robert assures, despite her words it doesn't ease his guilt or concern but he is grateful for the attempt. He can hear his own internal voice telling him as much, "Lets talk of lighter things while we eat." Appreciative shes got the door, slipping in with her and out of the streets. "For starters, why this place?"

"Because the food is absolutely phenomenal and no one will be looking at you while you eat with these girls taking all of their attention." Ah Vivienne. Always so practical.

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