Description: Sophia Smith, newest recruit to the Sacred Order and field medic of some skill, has her first run-in with knight captain Ky while relaxing in the Vatican. She tries to break the ice and help him relax a bit with a time honored tradition - booze!
Rome. An ancient city bearing the name of a long fallen empire, yet unlike many of its kind it has persisted throughout the ages, a testament to the sheer power and magnitude of those bygone conquerors. Once host to the meeting places for the most powerful men in the world, the city serves a different master now, one with far more noble intentions. Despite being a mere 110 acres in size and hosting a population of around only one thousand souls, the Vatican City still manages to represent the power base for one of the most influential figures in the modern world as the home of the current Pope.
As a Catholic herself, Sophia had made sure to visit this most holy of sites atleast a few times during her life. Her motivations had not been entirely driven by religious devotion; infact, she'd pretty much only done it to get her mother to stop nagging constantly about what a terrible sin it was not to go and pay proper respects to the saints. In retrospect, however, she actually found the trips rather pleasant. The old architecture was fascinating to see up close and she was constantly impressed with the incredible works of art that humans had achieved back in a time without computers or heavy machinery.
Ofcourse, she'd never walked in the kinds of circles that would have allowed her to access the more secretive aspects of the city - until now that is. Arguably even more impressive than the carved pillars and stained-glass windows is the interior of these old buildings, dozens of winding passages and carefully laid-out floor arrangements sitting in near geometric perfection. Naturally, some of that would be the result of modern restoration efforts but it's still pretty impressive how much of its natural design has been maintained.
The flash of a camera fills the small courtyard as the young woman wanders around in a lazy circle about the gazebo, snapping pictures of the various things within. There isn't a whole lot to see here other than some flowers and the small pond but like any awe-struck tourist she wants to capture everything while she has the chance. It's a nice respite from her duties as a field medic after the horrible events in Japan recently.
Ky Kiske, Knight Captain, and legend in his own time has been something of an absentee figure in these halls, and in this courtyard, as of late. He had been tied up in meeting after meeting about what had happened in Japan. About the rammifications of his decisions on the field, and about plans for the immediate future in the aftermath of a dissolved union with the UN. Debriefings. Explaining. Justifying. Rationalizing. Defending. It was clear that some faction here in the Vatican was opposed to Ky's decisions, and was looking to find any hole in his logic to cast the shadow of blame on him. To turn him, and the Sacred Order, into scapegoats to preserve... what?
An alliance with an organization that has now proven to be ineffective, at best, and most likely to be corrupted from within.
But now is one of those rare moments of freedom. Now, Ky is free from all of the meetings in secret, all the hours spent locked away in ancient chambers amidst naught but tired, old, scowling faces of men who should be filled with compassion, but are left with only the soulless eyes of those embroiled in heavy politics. Free of the accusatory suggestions and pointing fingers. Free of the pall of exile.
And here he comes. Slipping out of the doors, a knight errant if ever there was one. His white coat no less pristine than the armor of a shining knight, as it billows freely about his waist, trailing behind him as he strides on swift feet towards the gazebo. His face is soft, fine and youthful, but carries with it the tired, weighty expression of one many years his senior. His aquamarine eyes cast heavenward for a moment, looking to skies as a silent benediction is recited within his mind. A reminder that the Lord is good and that he, above all else, should hold on to hope. And this courtyard is the place to go if one aspires to find hope. How could it not? It is the picture of tranquility. It is a place of peace and beauty, and indicative of all the best that the Vatican has to offer. It is a sanctuary.
And it has a tourist.
At first, Ky looks confused as the flash of the bulb draws his eye, and the click of the shutter startles him. He casts his azure stare at the girl, his eyes narrowing as he keenly observes her. Familiar, that one.
Ky's black and blue gauntleted hand rises, one bare finger lifting upwards as he ponders, his lips parted as if to speak. After a moment, it comes to him, so when he does speak, his voice is soft, dulcet and smooth, made almost lyrical by virtue of that elegant, rolling French accent. "Oh... you are... Your name is Sophie... No. Sophia, oui? You were in Japan? A medic."
Caught up in her daydreaming and picture-taking, the young woman first mistaken for a tourist gives a little start as the Knight Captain's voice calls out to her from behind. She recovers her composure rather quickly, however, and turns to face the source of the interruption with a look of curiosity in her soft amber eyes. Upon discovering that her visitor is none other than the commander of her division himself, she offers him a wide smile in greeting and lifts the camera up to snap a quick picture of the elegantly-dressed man.
"Oui! Sophia Smith, formairly of ze Red Cross, and now proud membair of ze Sacred Order. Sourire!"
Sophia answers the knight's flowing English with a feminine counterpart to his own musical intonations though her accent is by far the more noticable of the two as if she has only recently learned to speak the language and has yet to refine the more obvious verbal ticks from her own native tongue. In truth she never really cared enough to bother, lots of people seemed to find her thick accent charming as she traveled the world and any little thing that she might use to break the ice in a potentially hostile environment never hurt. As one of the people crazy enough to go into those war-torn villages that were always shown in the heart-wrenching documentaries on the Discovery channel, she needed every edge she could get, and from what little she's learned about the Sacred Order's current problems that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
Sophia doesn't mind the challenge of working against the system, it's basically what she's been doing her entire career. Everywhere you go there's always politics involved, even when people's lives are on the line. More than once she'd been forced to perform triage on who would and would not get to live thanks to a lack of timely delivery on crucial supplies because a bunch of hospitals wasted time arguing over who would get to be the ones to earn the extra publicity by slapping their names on the crates. Now, she got to experience the real power plays though. The United Nations, various governments, even the Vatican - she was playing with the big boys now.
"So, mon capitaine... I see you 'ave finally been released from ze endless meetings, non? Tu t'en sors?"
"Yes. Finally," Ky says, his smile forming on the edges of his lips, though it is a wane thing. Surface only, and not reflected in the exhaustion held in his eyes. In truth, he's just been given a short moment of respite, but he's not going to drag anyone else down with that. It is better to be pleasant right now. Enjoy it while it lasts.
"And it sounds like you are from France? Where are you from, originally?"
That much he didn't know about. Ky makes it a point to try to remember each face and name, from the highest officer to the lowest grunt that falls under his command. It's part of the charisma that draws people to him, and why he has a reputation for being a good leader. He connects with his people. He doesn't see them as points on a board to move about and spend carelessly. But still, he is always fascinated when some small detail is discovered about someone new. And even more so when something falls in common.
Sophia lowers the camera and lets it hang freely from the strap about her neck, placing her hands on her hips as she clucks her tongue at him like a disappointed mother. His attempts to cover up his fatigue are quite useless in the face of a skilled medic, though one would probably be able to tell that he's been getting run into the ground even without her expertise. She stalks over to Ky and grabs him by the arm, tugging him towards the gazebo with a lot more strength than her slender frame might suggest. Apparently, she keeps in shape.
"Allez! Capitaine, you must rest! You look terribul! Come, sit wis me, ca te changera les idees."
While she is indeed concerned with keeping her commander healthy, Sophia's motivations for drawing the handsome young man into close proximity aren't entirely without ulterior goals. As her job has required that she keep on the move constantly in the past, she's never really gotten the chance to sit down and find herself a proper relationship. And yet, here's an attractive and successful, and hopefully single, man that has fallen right into her hands. Plus he's French, which gives them some common ground.
Once she's wrangled Ky over to the benches or realized that he's not going to budge, she answers his question. "Correct again. I come from Lyon. He's a pretty big place but not quite big enough for me, I suppose. I joined ze Red Cross as soon as I finished my nurse training so I could see ze rest of ze world."
She grins and laughs a little at this.
"Turns out dat most of ze world looks quite ze same. A joke on me, non?"
"Huh?" Ky asks, looking a bit confused as tongue clicking happens. His arm grabbed, the Holy Knight's confusion becomes, perhaps, a bit more bewildered, though he does in fact follow when he's led to the gazebo. He's, in no small part, impressed by the strength displayed in that simple gesture. He wouldn't have expected such a firm grip from a medic.
"Fine," Ky relents, a soft sigh escaping him at his surrender. He is French, after all! As he sinks down onto one of the benches, Ky draws his coat tails about him, and unfastens his coat, letting it hang open freely so that he might relax. "I am alright, though. You need not worry about me. I just need a bit more rest. It is very exciting being back home after such a grueling experience abroad. Do you not agree?"
Listening to her speak of her home, and wanting to leave it, Ky's soft lips part in a grin. He can relate, to an extent. It wasn't simply restlessness that drove him from France to the life of adventure. It was... what exactly? What would you call it? Vengeance? Or perhaps desperation. But to say that feeling the world, as an orphan, didn't seem to close around him and become suffocatingly small would be a lie.
"It only looks the same if the whole world is a battleground. Which is, all too often, all that we see. I suggest taking trips when you are off duty. See the world when it is not at war, and there are not the monsters to contend with. Out of the shadows and smoke and fire. In the daylight."
Sophia's melodic laugh echoes through the wide open courtyard again as she takes a seat next to the knight captain. Gruelling is a pretty good way to describe her own experiences over the past couple of months, though she would throw in exciting and fresh onto her own list of descriptors. Fighting off monsters and patching up wounds caused by claws and teeth well beyond the destructive power of any natural animal might be routine work for a member of the Sacred Order but up until then the worst she'd ever dealt with was survivors from a dynamite explosion in an African mine. That was pretty ugly but still caused by things she could understand. But it paled in comparison to what a Gear could do. How do deal with someone who's arm has been completely ripped off or who has been filled with razor-sharp metallic quills the size of daggers? She learned a lot of unpleasant lessons in that brief tour but it has arguably made her one of the most knowledgable people on the subject in her field of study.
"Oui, I suppose eet iz naice to go to bed wizout being woken up in ze middle of ze night to try and put some poor soul back togezer wiz gauze and a stapler. Dere were so many injuries dat we started to run out of supplies and ze UN would not allow any ships to pass through ze blockade."
Shifting her position slightly, the woman hooks her leg underneath the bench and slides it forward, dragging a small portable cooler from its hiding place in the shade. Flipping it open reveals several bottles of beer couched in ice, along with a couple of prepackaged sandwiches from one of the local quick stop markets. Sophia snags one of the bottles and offers it to Ky, shaking it back and forth enticingly at him with a grin.
"'ere you go, capitaine. A bit of medicine for your ails, doctor's prescription."
She's actually only a nurse but, details. Snagging one for herself, she flicks the top off with her thumb with casual ease, sending the cap flying straight up into the air in a wild spin. Sophia's hand snaps out to catch it as it falls back to the ground and she flicks it again, this time sending it shooting into the open cooler like a bullet. The medic downs a good quarter of the bottle in one pull, exhaling a satisfied sigh as she leans back into the cushy seating.
"Do not worry about me, I am well acquainted wiz taking it easy. Infact, I was planning to take a little trip to Castelli Romani for dinner dis evening. You are welcome to join me. I hear dat ze food is quite famous."
"Yeah, it was pretty bad over there."
A voice came out from the shadows, as the large, muscular form of the blue-skinned Oni appeared. Dressed only in black shirt and black pants, it seemed that he saved the coat and weapons for when he was out on the job, though he still bore the symbol of the Order as a crest on his shirt. His two thin white 'tusks' gleaming in the light of the sun, over his shoulder was a slew of crates, tied up with rope and held up by him. Regarding the two in the courtyard, the big blue bruiser spoke up with that deep, relaxed voice of his.
"This the new girl? I was in France a few years ago, church had me workin' on some disappearances up near Paris. A hell of a place."
"It was difficult, oui," Ky says, in response to Sophia's recounting of supply shortages and injured men. The light in those aqua eyes diminishes, instantly shifting from sunlit skies to stormy and overcast ones. More gray than blue. His gaze drifts downward. So many horrible things happened in pursuit of Dizzy. So many needless horrors. "I want to thank you for your committment. All of you were truly angels in the Lord's service for those of us who were on the front lines. I only wish that we could return there to help rebuild. Unfortunately, the powers that be have denied my request to send a relief expedition to Japan."
When she opens the cooler, Ky eyes the contents warily. Ky Kiske is a devout man of God. He is a Knight Captain. A Paladin of myth and legend made manifest. He is not known for his drinking habit. Far from it, his purity is almost as legendary as his sword skills. Or, it was. Before rumors of his womanizing had started to spread. And yet... Twice now, he finds himself accepting a beer without hesitation. Taking it in one hand, he pries the cap off with the other. "Well, if the doctor recommends it, it must not be so bad now, non?"
He does manage a lopsided grin that makes him seem all of his 19 years of age for once. And then Blue shows up. Ky's attention turns to the large, tusked Oni, and he tips his head in the direction as a means of greeting him. "Hello again, Blue. This is Sophia. She is one of our medics. And yes, Paris is a wonderful city. Beautiful place, but then, sadly, it is all that most people think of when they think of France. The entire country is marvelous. You should try Nice or Lyon!"
As for the invitation to dinner, Ky turns back to Sophia and offers another smile. "If the Inquisition has finished putting the hot irons to my soles, I would be delighted, Sophia. In fact, that sounds like a wonderful plan. Get outside of these walls for a bit. It is strange, is it not? When I am away, all I can think of is to return to this place. And when I am here, it now feels so stiffling and claustrophobic."
Suddenly, his face becomes crestfallen. He looks down, his face half hidden by wisps of golden hair. "I wonder how Dizz... How the Command Gear must be feeling here right now. If she feels these walls are a sanctuary or a prison. She was free and in nature before all of this. And they have not allowed me to speak to her since we arrived..."
Ah, good, he accepted. She was afraid that the pure-as-driven-snow commander might require some coercing to loosen up a bit but it would seem that his weariness is such that she required no such effort. Even a templar needs to unwind from time to time, it seems. Sophia grins at his eager acceptance of her gifts, glad that she thought ahead to bring them along. Having a drink with someone is a time-honored way to break the ice. Totally not because she drinks at lunch on the regular. Nope.
She is half-way through taking another long swig from the bottle when a literal monster shows up. The woman rocks forward in her seat, spitting beer in surprise as she chokes. It takes a couple of moments to recover from that, coughing harshly into the sleeve of her jacket. This gives Ky a moment to offer a casual greeting to the oni which in turn causes Sophia to eyeball him and then the large blue man, her eyes wide in surprise. This would be the first time she's ever seen a Darkstalker up close. Ofcourse, she'd heard of them but to actually meet one... it's like seeing a movie monster casually stroll up and wave at you.
"Ahem... pardonne-moi, monsieur...Blue, was eet?"
The woman wipes the last of the spilled drink off her face and tries to hide her embarssment behind a wide grin as she relaxes visibly. "Oui, I am ze 'new girl', as you say. Sophia Smith. Eet iz naice to meet you!"
As an apology for her outburst, Sophia digs another one of the beers out of the cooler and holds it up for Blue to see, sitting it down on the bench next to her as an obvious offer to join them. She is about to rejoice at Ky's acceptance of her invitation to dinner but something else he says catches her mid-thought, her mouth hanging open.
"A-ah... pardon, capitaine, but did you say... Command Gear? Dere iz a... Command Gear... here? In dis city? And you... you are protecting it?"
She pulls the bottle up to her mouth and takes another long drink and laughs somewhat nervously.
"I must have missed dat part of ze employee handbook..."
"Ahh that's sweet, and anyone who knows me knows I love booze, but I gotta get this stuff to the workshop. Silver and holy water, not exactly a monster's best friends, y'know?"
With that, the big powerful form was gone out of sight.
Ky registers the surprise that Sophia has at Blue's presence, perhaps a bit belatedly. Reaching out, he offers a light pat on her back in response to the choking, but otherwise tries not to draw too much attention to the social faux pas. As they make their introductions, and then Blue quickly leaves, Ky simply gives a wave goodbye to the Oni, before he settles back, leaning against one of the posts of the gazeebo from his bench seat, and more directly facing Sophia.
"Oui. I encountered Dizzy... sorry... The Command Gear while in Japan. During the encounter, I determined that... she was..."
Ky looks away from Sophia, casting his eyes out over the garden surrounding them, and yet, not looking at anything in particular. The faintest vestige of a smile graces the Cupid's Bow of his lips. "She is an innocent. Not truly a threat, nor deserving of the fate of being weaponized as the UN has done with the likes of Justice. Her name is Dizzy. There was a report issued out about her presence, and allowing you to speak with her. In fact, I would encourage it, Sophia. If you have a chance. Please speak with her. She... needs to see that humanity is good and kind and noble. She needs people to treat her with love and care."
"I... I see."
Another large portion of the contents in Sophia's bottle disappears down her throat and she leans back on the bench slowly, holding the still cold container against her temple as a sudden headache starts to form. What sort of crazy nonsense has she gotten herself caught up in this time? Joining the Sacred Order had been something of an impulse decision. At the time, she'd been upset and worn down by the constant stream of injured and the task of trying to figure out how to make their rapidly dwindling medical supplies last. Not everyone who could have been saved managed to survive thanks to the political bullshit going on and she'd hoped that an organization with as much clout as the Order would be able to cut through that stuff. Instead, she is quickly finding that there's even more of it going on, secrets and cover-ups left and right.
"Perhaps I will do so," she says, after a bit of contemplation, putting on a smile again.
To be fair, she's never actually gotten to speak to a Gear. All of the ones she saw in Japan were slobbering monsters but she'd heard the news about Justice as well as a few other scattered reports of a second humanoid Gear within the city. That must have been this 'Dizzy' person. An odd name. Though she's only just met Ky, Sophia gets the feeling that she can trust his judgement on this. She's always been a compassionate sort, always looking to see the best side of things, so maybe there is some hope that not all Gears are bad.
"Ouais, enfin... I will meet you for dinner tonight, oui? We can rent a car and take ze scenic route! My liscence should still be good in Europe."
Ky catches the way she is guzzling that beer, while he simply sips his own from time to time. He also notes that she puts it against her head. His thin, blonde brows come knitting together over his small, upturned nose. He leans forward, closer to her, and reaches out, placing a hand on her shoulder. The weight of it is light, but reassuring. Those elegant, tapered digits press in with surprising strength to knead the muscles there, and when he speaks, his voice is softer, kinder, and dripping forth from his pliant lips like molten honey, "It is much to take, I know."
"The Order is going through a time of change. This is a good thing. We are accepting people for what lies in their hearts over their blood. You will meet many wonderful people, some of which are not human. Like Blue. There is a delightful woman here that is... a floating jellyfish. Do not be surprised. And do not be alarmed. You are in good company."
He slips his fingers around the back of her neck, giving one more squeeze before retreating and rising to his feet. His smile is tender and inviting, filled with the kind of kindness one could expect in the likes of Bob Ross or Mr. Rogers, but all put in this wet dream package that Ky is without ever knowing it. "Oui. I tend to take my dinners late, and I imagine that I will be called back in for more interrogation until the evening. Let us meet at say.... seven? I look forward to it. That sounds like a wonderful adventure. In the meantime, should you have a chance to see or speak with Dizzy, please tell her..."
He looks down at his feet for a moment. His scowl returns, but only briefly. "Tell her that I hope that she is well."
Sophia's eyes shift sideway when she feels those strong fingers on her shoulder but she makes no objection to his reassuring touch, either verbal or in body language. She knows the healing power of human kindness. It might not mend wounds or set bones but it can restore something just as important to the wellbeing of a person, namely their spirit and morale. It is that very thing that she herself has used on many an occasion, often when she was assigned to areas where she spoke almost nothing of the local language. Kindness and smiles are universally understood.
She returns his smile with one of her own, lowering the bottle into her lap. Darkstalkers and humans working side by side, huh. Times they are a changing quickly. It was only a few years ago that the creatures even became public knowledge and now there are already people fighting to make them fit into society. Humanity never ceases to amaze her at times with its incredible spirit and adaptability. Ofcourse, there is a dark side to it as well but she'd long ago decided to fight against that part of mankind. It's why she became a nurse to begin with.
"Works for me," she says, tilting the bottle towards him in acknowledgement as Ky rises to leave. "I will wait for you in ze parking lot, oui? Maybe I will go find dis Dizzy and have a nice chat in ze mean time. I will pass your message along too."
Lifting a hand to give him a farewall wave, Sophia drains the rest of her drink and grabs the one she set aside for Blue, popping it open with another flick of the thumb that sends the top ricocheting off the inside of the gazebo only to fly right back into the cooler. She grins at him and winks, then snags one of her sandwiches and prepares to have lunch.
"Te fatigues pas, capitaine!"
Log created on 09:57:19 01/30/2018 by Siren, and last modified on 15:58:55 01/30/2018.