10.12.3013: The Shadow and The Sister
Summary: Blue Sister meets with Brother Shadow to go around the new infirmary, and to allow Nitrim security access.
Date: many days
Related: Talia, the Green Snake and the Blue Sister
BlueSister Nitrim 

The Drudge Quarter of Smog Alley, Obsidia
Throughout the log
12 October, 3013

The dark smog that hangs over the dank quarter is heavier with the impending rain, and what lights are lit can do little against the hovering gloom. In one of the pools of light, a small group of rag tag children, all of them seeming close to their teens, are grouped together, with a slightly taller figure at their center. In fact, a couple of them are of a height with the woman in the faded blue cloak, and can almost look her in the eye. The breathing mask she wears slightly muffles her voice, but they can hear her clearly enough as they spread out in front of her, taking partners in the process.

The idea is clear soon as one set of the pairs reaches for their partner, who grabs the arm and guides it away from them, breaking out of the attempted hold. The Sister walks among the half dozen partners, correcting a motion here, or a stance there, all the time offering encouragement. The moves are basic, but will give a child room to run when someone tries to grab them.

Along the street, other eyes are watching. Some from their stoops where they sit, others from the black rectangles of their open windows, as they have no lights on inside, saving the light for when they absolutely need it. Everywhere, there are eyes. This is one of those places where one feels they are always being watched, and the shoulder blades often feel quite prickly.

A new figure enters the street. The lengthened shadows twist and turn as a figure wearing black, with a low, frayed cowl and black gloves seamlessly slips through the fading light of the streetside and turns the corner. The lower hem of his coat brushes the stones as belted, buckled boots tap against the pavement, and his black glove rests comfortably in a lazy hang over the ornate hilt of the longsword that dangles from his hip. He’s a figure they’ve seen before, a figure rumored to be a lord of the Crescent.

As he steps up, Nitrim finds a dumpster to lean against and reaches into the inner pocket of his coat. The cowl is high enough to allow his lips to be seen, though from the downward angle of his eyes he watches the session in progress as he slips a cigarette into his lip. With a flicker of his aura, the tip lights on his own and still…he says nothing.

Although she glances about at times, the young woman has become engrossed with teaching the children, and so doesn’t see the Lord at first. But, it’s those hairs on the back of her neck that prickle, and she looks up after correcting one of the taller lads, and notes the smoking next to the dumpster. She nods, then returns her attention to finishing the lesson at hand. Once done, she gives them all rough hugs or ruffles their hair, then hands out little sweets to each of them, sending them on their way to their homes.

Walking over, she peers just for a moment to be sure she’s right. “Thank you for coming, my-” there’s a hesitation as if it seems difficult for her to not be proper, and she finally says, “thank you for coming, Brother Shadow.”

“Nice catch.” Nitrim laughs softly, waving to her with his cigarette hand as he props an elbow against the hard steel of the dumpster and settles into a rather fabulous lean, boots out, sword hanging, not a care in the world or fear of the dark streets around them. His head tilts, pressing one ear closer to her as a thoughtful look crosses over his lips, trying to place her. “I thought I’d come by and see how everything is going with you, since I’m proverbially in hiding anyway. Were those the hands of the Blue Sister you were training there?”

A chuckle sounds under the hood, and she shake her head. “No, I’m not training them for me. I’m training them so they can protect themselves. Once you start helping people, others want what you give them, so you have to also teach them how to keep what they have.” She gives a nod, and turns her shoulder outwards. “Whenever you are ready, I can show you what we’ve set up to use as a clinic, and to keep the supplies safely locked away.” She pauses, ducking her head self consciously. “I have seen you in more than just pictures, Brother Shadow, but I am not of your circle. I just happen to have money.” The last is said as low as possible, to keep from being overheard.

“I’ve been on quite a ride lately haven’t I?” Nitrim replies quietly, ending the lean as he motions for her to lead the way with a sweep of his gloved hand towards the end of the street. The lips from beneath his cowl curl into a smirk as he keeps his voice low, a near whisper as he slides to the other side of her and lets the trail of cigarette smoke flow behind him. “I know I’ve seen you too, though I don’t know who you are yet.” He admits with a shake of his head. “I’m not paying much attention and if I did find out who you are I wouldn’t tell. You and I seem to have the same penchant for trying to help people with the real face and using the public one to spell a different picture.”

“We aren’t quite as alike as you seem to think,” she tells him. “If I may be so bold, m-Brother Shadow, you have made mistakes, been down some of the wrong alleys, not that that is an excuse for you to be hounded pillar to post” there is perhaps a double meaning there, considering the first alley where she met him. “On the other hand, my public face has no use whatsoever.” She walks quietly for a few minutes. “I have tried to make other people in my set see what is going on here. But they truly believe that the people who are poor deserve it. It’s not so much intentional malice as the fact that our compassion has become a victim of our work ethic.”

Her gaze wanders over the family sitting on the stoop, sharing their dinner outside in what meager light is afforded by the street lamp. “Because we got what we have through hard work, and because we believe in self reliance, we tend to think that everyone who works hard will just automatically receive just reward, and if they don’t, they aren’t working hard enough. But it doesn’t work that way. These people are not lazy, they work up to ten hours a day sometimes. There just aren’t enough positions for everyone to rise up. Someone has to do the hard work at the bottom, because if they don’t there won’t be anything supporting the top.” The blue hood glances in his direction. “I hope that makes sense to you.”

"It makes perfect sense to me, truly," Nitrim replies as he rounds around the front of a garbage can deftly. He has to tuck his sword against his side to avoid hanging the hollow metal as they walk. "Being born who I am I have been afforded certain luxuries, Sister, and it has t been lost on me that I didn't have a lot of say into which family I was born. If the Chantry is wrong, it really was a luck of the draw all along and I could just have easily been any of these folk." Looking forward, his eyes scrape over the family ahead as he flicks his cigarette into the street. A flash of flame later and the cigarette, butt and all, disintegrates into a pile of ash. "And yes, it's bold, but true that I've made mistakes. There are prices that people like myself pay for being reactive, for not watching their footing. What the news doesn't understand is how much weight those mistakes comes with. I may be without direction sometimes but I am not without the ability to understand responsibility. The fun, as they say, is long and ending for me. The time for work has come and the transition has been…deadly."

The Sister's head tilts as she walks, the angle thoughtful as she comes to a decision. "When I was young, I slipped the attention if my caretaker, and I wandered into Smog Alley. I was wearing expensive clothes and shoes, I ibviously came from a family if wealth. A man wanted to take me hostage and ransom me back to my parents. Another man and his oldest son told him it wasn't going to happen. Lucky for me, the second man won."

Her narration pauses as they reach a door that is actually clean and she steps to the side for him to enter first, although the tone if her pause indicates there is more.
The interior is also clean, although dimly lit in the occupied rooms. A one armed men exits one of the rooms to greet them and her voice becomes perceptibly warmer as she speaks. "Bertram, this is Brother Shadow. I am going to program his thumb to open the stores so that he can make deposits."

The mention if deposits brings a nod from the man as he offers his remaining right had in greeting. "Thank you, Brother Shadow," his words hold a slight touch of deference, which coupled with the rather lower nod that one might give an equal infers that he may have some knowledge of the true indenture of the dark cowled man.

"And just like that, I become a part of the new conspiracy." Nitrim's lips move slowly as his cowl shifts his attention between Bertram and the Blue Sister, an almost amused look upon his face as he reaches for his glove and starts to pluck at the fingertips. Hand freed, he flexes his fingertips, offering them to the Blue Sister, ready to assist.

"Make no mistake, both of you, that in the end I am just one of you. I've dedicated this new life of mine to traversing beneath reputation and lifestyle to get to the root of the problem and find out what work really needs to be done." Nitrim adds, looping a thumb in the buckle of his sword belt as he prepares to follow them. "A friend of mine says I should move more openly, but I fear doing so would ruin my ability to catch people by surprise. Better they see me as a drunk than someone who is effectively spying on all of society to find the cracks where the bad things hide." He smiles darkly. "I'm far less likely to get a knife in the back that way, which I assure you is a distinct possibility. So don't follow me. That's all that I ask. I've caused enough chaos in my wake that I want to minimize it all now; take these risks as close to the chest as I can."

"Just like that," the two agree, almost in unison, and it is possible there is a bemused smirk under the breath mask that matches the one in Bertram's face. The man hands over a piece if paper and nods to let the two visitors continue on unaccompanied.

The structure they are in looks to have been a storage area in it’s past life. The hallway is lined with uniform, windowless rooms, most of them without doors, and they have cots in them for people to lay on. Some few still have the rolling doors and a lock pad on the wall next to them. It's fairly clear that the units where the electronic lock systems were too compromised were the ones made into infirmary rooms, as there is no particular order to the locked doors being used for storage. Blue Sister leads him to the end if the hallway, to a locked door where she presses her thumb on the security pad to enter. Here is the original security and control room, some of the cameras still in operation, and the brain center for the locks on the doors outside.

As she is running a systems check and programing the security she continues her story.
"The second man, he needed money just as much the first man. He worked the same job, for the same low wage, and has the same grudges against the factory owners as the first man. Yet, he doesn't see my plight as a way to make money. He and his son lead me back to the market and helped me find my caretaker, and accepted no reward. I wanted to know why.

"So, I put together a basket of food and I snuck out, found my way back there again, and I asked him about it.

"He told me that some people like to blame their circumstances for what they do. ‘It's the factory owners' fault we're so poor that we need to steal or ransom to make ends meet’. But he doesn't buy that, called it the excuse of a weak man. He said that no matter what other people do to him, or how circumstances treat him, he is still responsible for whatever choice he makes, and no one else can be blamed for his choice. It is still up to him to choose what is right."

The Sister pauses in her story as she indicates for Nitrim to press his thumb to the pad to be read, and she looks up to him. "No matter what you may have done, my Lord, the choice she made is her own and only herself to blame for it, not you." In the earnestness of her gaze and the light if the overhead lamp, he can see the hazel hue that wavers between green and brown.

"History will judge me differently." Nitrim replies to her, his eyes holding hers as he reaches out to place his thumbprint on the scanner. "At least that portion of it, until I give the history books to write something else about me. This is something that this operation should never forget."

Turning his head, Nitrim lets out a quiet sigh as he watches the scanner get to work. He shifts his weight to the other hip, leaving his sword's scabbard to tap helplessly against his thigh. "I'm finding out a lot in my investigations and the most important thing I have learned so far is that it isn't necessary what is printed in history that counts so much as the truth behind it, but it is the documented history itself that is written by biased hands that changes faces, places, names." He pauses, looking back to her. "This war, I assure you, is because a long time ago someone lied and that lie got stuck in history. Be careful that what you do is loud enough to be remembered the right way, and never another. Be careful."

<FS3> Klaudea rolls Electronics: Good Success.

The Sister’s eyes seem to narrow a bit at the corners, perhaps from a wry smile. “I hope that I move quietly through history, and will be quite happy to never see my name printed in its pages. In fact, I feel that I will succeed in passing unseen if I do right, as it seems all everyone wants to talk about are the people who make mistakes. There are no cameras following the people who go about doing their daily business as they should.” She gives a nod, and enters a few more commands. “You are all set. Now we can go get the things Bertram needs from the list out of storage.”

Standing, she starts towards the door. “Who lied, my Lord?”

"We lied, I fear." Nitrim turns to follow her, reaching to his belt to tug his glove back on to his hand. "Whether it was intentional or accidental, the Hostile hate us and blame us for atrocities committed against them. It could be that they were lied to as well, but I've seen evidence of historical inconsistencies. Either way, they have a different memory of history about the Fifth World than we were taught." Nitrim's long legs easily bring him to walk alongside her, his voice low. "On either side of the fence is some kind of inconsistency that I don't understand yet, but I will and learning the truth behind that may be the key to a cease-fire. They're human. Someone lied, twisted, or misunderstood facts, but what remains a fact is that they're here to punish us."

The Blue Sister actually stops walking and looks up to Nitrim. “A cease-fire?” she asks, disbelieving. “How can that be possible?” She manages to force her legs into motion again, and continues to a storage room so that she can key it open with her thumb. Once inside she consults the list in hand, and hands a couple of the heavier Oxygen canisters to the lord to carry.

“It’s hard to consider that they could actually be human.. Some of the footage I saw on video feeds people uploaded…” she swallows. “I’m sorry. I lost someone close to me to a Hostile attack, and it just seems so…” she shakes her head. “So, someone fed them some sort of lie or misinformation, and then pumped them up while they were away with a single purpose, to kill us? Talk about history being written from a biased point of view…” She chews at her lip.

Grunting with the two oxygen cans being carried in an over handed, ape-like grip, Nitrim carries them one either side of them. "Cease fire is just an idea, not my place to run out there screaming to get them to stop, that might be suicide and then I really would go down in history as a fool." He manages a smile as he turns, waiting for her to move again. "But at their core they are human, with families, and I've said multiple times now that if they have the capacity for hatred, it's because there is something that they love."

Pausing, his neck stretches upwards, daring to almost let his cowl flutter down over the back of his head and reveal himself, though it does not. In a moment of ingenuity, his aura flares and one of the cannisters begins to carry itself, allowing him to two-hand carry the other with more ease. "They think we abandoned them to hunger and hardship. My standing theory is that someone, thousands of years ago, covered up the truth about why they disappeared. Someone knows the truth, or worse yet maybe we are all operating on millennia of misinformation because some selfish asshole wrote an incorrect report, or some house hated theirs when they went for world five. We may be dealing with a situation where out living leadership doesn't have the slightest clue what we did to earn this rage." Nitrim's voice lowers. "Or worse yet, somebody does. This war is all about the sins of the father, though. I'm convinced about that."

Nitrim starts to walk, slowly. "I met the captive." He murmurs flatly, a mild reveal. "She isn't so different. It's a dangerous concept."

Blue Sister grins as Nitrim uses his Awakened powers to carry one of the oxygen cannisters while she carries a box of medicines. She ducks her head to hide it, even though it’s already pretty well hidden by her breath mask.

“Sins of the father,” she murmurs before she lifts her head to address him again. “It is human nature to try and cover your tracks when you make a mistake. Especially one that can potentially cost hundreds of people their lives,” she muses quietly. “Is Fifth World really so bad a place to live? Has the captive told you anything about what it’s like?"

"I imagine by how truly she believes in her mission that it's a hard life. They don't eat food like they do, they eat some kind of nutrient sludge. I don't think they have children like we do either, which, is really unfortunate if that is true." Nitrim skirts the edge of sarcasm as he ambles along, air cannisters in tow. "I get the sense that resources are scarce and they are slaves to their own society, surviving rather than living. It makes me wonder if they need just as much help as these people do, and if so I hope this attack doesn't damn the rest of their loved ones from getting it." He pauses, teeth flashing. "It makes it harder to fight them, so I reserve myself to defending myself against them but hoping they learn that this fighting isn't necessary."

“I can imagine it would. It’s always harder to fight someone when you can find some connection.” The Blue Sister nods to one of the doorways through which a man propped up on one of the cots with oxygen tubes to his nose can be seen. “One of them goes here… if you just set it down next to the old canister, Bertram can switch them over and I can take the empty.” She waits by the door while he sets one of them down, then leads him on again.
“I wonder, though, which is worse. Eating a sludge that at least has all the nutrients you need, or eating food that is the bottom scraps and not necessarily healthy.” There is no rising of her voice at the end. It is not really a question she is seeking an answer for as neither seems more or less palatable than the other.
"To me it sounds like their regular existence is no better than what we see here. I cannot even imagine what conditions their poor would live in. If what I've read is right, war will make things worse here." She doesn't put into words the equivalent for the other side.

"I just think it's yet another stain on a history filled with people behaving badly that people are going to die and be displaced, hungry, and sick over a decision that may have been made that we never even knew about some five thousand years ago." Nitrim replies grimly as he sets the cannister into place with ease. Flexing his gloves, he takes up the second one into his hands, extinguishing his aura. "For whatever reason, they're not attempting diplomacy and for all I know I was lied to, which again, refer to human history."

Nitrim turns to the Blue Sister, lip curling with his nose into a sneer. "Sometimes I think this evolution we credit ourselves so much with is for too great a cost. We complicate things as a species unnecessarily for a number of poor, selfish emotions like ambition and the feelings that drive it."

The sneer holds the Sister’s attention until they are approached by a young man who takes the box of medicines in one arm, and the cannister from Nitrim on the other and heads towards the room that Bertram came from earlier. After thanking the young man with a nod, she lowers her head in thought.

“I do not think that evolution has caused the stain, Brother Shadow,” she says quietly. “Humans are like Nature itself. In Nature, you find every opposite in equal abundance. Light and dark, wet and dry, fire and ice, life and death…” she waves her hand to indicate that the list goes on. “Humanity holds cruelty and kindness, vengeance and forgiveness, greed and generosity in equal portions. It is the human condition that we cannot change, evolution or not. History will always be stained.”

A little snort that sounds like a dark laugh comes from the breath mask. “Interesting how the words of a man with little formal education, that no noble would ever sit down and talk with unless forced to do so, have shaped my view of the world far more than anything my teachers or father ever said to me.”

"Reminds me of a story," Nitrim replies, reaching into the sleeve of his coat to scratch an itch as the man walks away with their carried supplies. Though his head doesnt't rise, Nitrim watches, silent, until he's certain that they're mostly alone again. "A young awakened student came to train under a wise, old Hermetic, and started off by telling this teacher about how smart he was, how much he had learned before their meeting, and how good a student he would be." Nitrim's expressive lips curl into a grin, motioning for her to lead to the next place, wherever that may be.

"So the teacher placed a tea cup in his students hands and began filling it with steaming water. The water boiled over onto the student's hands and he dropped the cup. It shattered." Nitrim pauses for effect, casting a dark smirk to the Blue Sister's eyes. "The student screamed that the cup was full and why didn't the teacher stop trying to fill it?" He reaches to his cowl, pulling it down a little more. "The teacher replied that the student's cup was already full to begin with."

The woman chuckles a little at the story, but she gives a shake to her head. “I’m not sure how the both are related, Brother Shadow. Unless they are both semi-autobiographical.” Her eyes turn to him with a cheeky glint in them.

At his indication, she gives a shrug, leading him down the hallway. “This is pretty much all we have, right here. I wanted to talk to you or Talia about making the air cleaner? She said something about a filter system or some such, but I admit, that’s not my kind of electronics. I’m more of a computer/AI kind of person.”

There also doesn’t seem to be much in the way of staff, either. Aside from Bertram and the young man, there’s only been one other young woman about. The rooms are not full, by any means, although judging by the amount of coughing they passed on the streets, it seems like there should be more.

"Oh, Talia is vastly more the technician and medical sort than I am. I'm a flamethrower with arms and an eye for liars and insurrectionists, I just happen to have a little pink in my cold, black heart." Nitrim replies, planting a gloved hand over his chest to doth declare. The only expression aside from his body language, his lips, flatten in a display of utterly theatrical sarcasm. "And no, my training was something hard and emotionless. The moral to that story is that sometimes nobles are too smart for their own good. It's the people that don't know everything that tend to learn more, respect their skills more. The moment anyone starts to think they know it all or are a subject matter expert, they forget to learn. I've learned more from beggars and thieves than I have not."

Turning, Nitrim offers a hand to the Blue Sister for a shake, as if preparing to leave. "I'm going to undisappear now, but there is someone I know that might also wish to help if you don't mind me arranging a meeting between the two of you? I may be squiring again, on Ignis or at Volkan, but a squire nonetheless and at the least she would be an easy way for you to get a hold of me and is discreet. She wants to make a difference. Shall I arrange?"

The way the Sister responds to his mention of squiring is almost comical. She stops dead, and looks up at him, her eyes wide. “/You/ are being a squire Brother Shadow?” She peers into his cowl as if trying to find the joke. “Aren’t you a little old to be a squire?” Then the shock of the question seems to wear off, and she gives a nod while taking his hand. “I am not in a position to be refusing help from any quarter,” she tells him. “Anyone you wish me to meet, I shall be happy for it. As long as they don’t wish to see behind the mask.”

"Are you saying I wouldn't make a good knight, Blue Sister?" Nitrim smiles, walking backwards away from her as he, once again, plants his gloved hand to the center of his chest in mock stage offense. He smiles quietly as he slips away, turning his back to her. "Squires come in all shapes and sizes and each day I grow closer to being reborn, my last rites given. I've all but sworn the safety of every soul in Haven as my personal charge. You wound me. I just may cry myself to sleep over my prime rib." More sarcasm. It is a thing of beauty.

"Send me a message from a different terminal next time, every time. I will be in touch. It was a pleasure, Blue Sister, it always is."

The sound of merry laughter comes from the Blue Sister at Nitrim’s show of indignation and hurt. “I thought it would be a filet mignon with lobster tail, Brother Shadow. You surprise me again.” She wraps her arms loosely around her waist, her head tilted to the side as she watches him go. “Always a pleasure,” she echoes, whether or not he hears her. Then, softer, for herself, “all shapes and sizes, indeed.” She stirs out of her reverie when Bertram approaches, and she looks up to the raised eyebrows he gives her. The answer is a shrug, “time will tell. How are we doing?”

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