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Journal The Family Business: Musings on a Half-Breed

Discussion in 'The Library' started by Phillipa Graeling, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. Phillipa Graeling

    Phillipa Graeling New Member

    To whom it may concern,

    In the last two years I have had the privilege of serving with a great many brave, and dedicated souls who chose to wear the cross. Still it is no secret that, first as a Templar proper and then as the Library White's Templar liaison, my time among the ranks as been turbulent. My issue is not with Templars. My issue is with Temple Hall.

    I have often asked myself why this was. But until recently, when I was asked by a third party, I was unable to formulate an answer.

    The question was why I would have such animosity with Temple Hall, when I seemingly embody so many Templar principles. An observation I believe to be true. However, what separates me from Temple Hall is not the principles I lack, but the principle I carry that Temple Hall does not echo.

    I believe in mercy. Not weakness. Not Naivety. But mercy. I believe it not only right, but necessary that we embody it. My entire life I have struggled against wrath. It is my nature in the end, and I have had to accept this. But I have also worked to learn when and where mercy is the better path. And to have the bravery, and integrity required to take that path.

    The cynics, the sociopaths, and the old guard will say mercy cannot save the world. I will not claim they are wrong. But it will be mercy that saves Humanity, and I do not fight for the world.

    I believe in the Templars that fight, and die, and fight again in the name of Humanity. But because Temple Hall does not believe in mercy? I do not believe in Temple Hall. And so with this letter I resign officially from the Templar Order, as is allowed by the Council of Venice articles of service.

    And may God have mercy on your souls.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Phillipa P. Graeling, Dectective Chief Inspector
     
  2. Phillipa Graeling

    Phillipa Graeling New Member

    A Disparate Pack


    It's not a trick of the eyes when shadows in this part of Romania's forests move. Either there’s something out there, or the shadows themselves are writhing. Even the experienced can struggle to sight the difference. And those that know, learn not to trust sight at all.

    Phillipa's hearing is not super human. Nothing about her earthly body is. Rather, one side of her blended heritage influences the other, producing an organism the medical staff of the Library White have labeled an Apex Human: A body operating at the pinnacle of human capability. It was this that allowed her to keep pace with the chosen without being one herself. Though when worse came to worst, anima usually won out.

    Even with senses this accute, she has barely a breath's warning of tiny feet approaching before their owner is within striking distance. She doesn't draw the blade at her hip. Nor does she bring the custom shotgun in her hands to bare. Instead, she offers a controlled smile.

    "I hope I--didn't spook you, Agent?" The voice comes from behind, and from near waist height. It has the venerated, halting gait of one who's grown wise enough, and old enough, not to rush their words.

    The half-breed turns, letting brown eyes fall on the Blajini gentlemen. He's offering a smile in return. Dressed in buckled shoes, corduroy slacks, and a collared shirt beneath a thick, cream cardigan, he immediately evokes thoughts of Grandfathers. Despite the elongated ears and front teeth he bares. And despite Pippa never having known a grandfather of her own.

    "Fortunately no, Andros," she offers with a friendly but hushed voice. "Though I'm finding the stories of Blajini stealth are well deserved."

    She would normally never address a man in her charge and also her senior by first name, but it was the only name he'd offered. And he’d insisted she use it. Come to think of it, she couldn't be sure it was his first name at all.

    "Yes." He rubs his chin. "Yes. Natural gifts," he answers simply.

    "Was there something you needed?" Even as she asks, Pippa is listening intently to the forest. Listening for the sounds of movement, or no sound at all. In a forest, both can be a warning.

    "I wanted to thank you. Eh--for the fire."

    "Of course. It was no trouble." And in this she is speaking literally. She'd been starting fires at will since puberty. And sometimes not at will.

    "Mmm," he nods. "Was most impressive Agent. Most impressive. But...we were hoping you might--join us at it? Hmm?"

    Pippa peers through the dark forest to find the gentle flames of their camp. The orange light falls on a tiny caravan of wagons and RVs. Or rather, the caravan of tiny wagons and RVs. Some are lit from within, occasionally showing equally tiny silhouettes.

    Sitting near the fire itself, Andros' wife knits what looks like another cardigan in grey. His sons bicker over a campfire roasted dessert while his daughter quietly spirits it beneath their wagon to enjoy herself.

    Phillipa has patrolled the area time and again since they set up camp. After two days of sporadic attacks, they were finally beyond the vampire's territory. And if any chose to be so bold as to follow, her ears would give ample warning. If all went well, they'd be to the Council meeting point before midday tomorrow.

    Still, she hesitates. Andros, however, does not.

    "Come along, Agent," he calls. His tone is matter of fact as he begins to scurry back toward camp. Pippa is no giant at five foot, eight inches. But even if she were scaled down to average height, she'd still dwarf Andros with height to spare. She closes the gap of his lead with a few full strides, and they walk together through the shadowy forest.

    "You have a beautiful family, Andros," Pippa says. The warmth in her tone is nearly tactile.

    "Aye. What's the--saying? Pride and Joy? Aye!" A short, barking laugh. "My pride and joy." Pippa can't help but be heart warmed. "And now I have you and the Council of Venice to thank for keeping us safe,” he adds.

    For a moment she’d forgotten who she represented, having only just been assigned to the Council under the auspices of the Library White. This was the first time her white and blue tactical armor, blood-stained shoulder emblazoned with the blade and the lion, had seen the field. "We're both glad to be of service. But it was you and the others who requested aid, despite the reprisals it could bring. Your bravery is more responsible than I am."

    The tiny gentlemen glances up at her with what must be his mouth's version of a sly grin. "We make a good team."

    Pippa chuckles. "That we do." For a moment her focus is suddenly and totally drawn to a noise deeper in the forest. One hand holds the shotgun by its breach as the temperature of the other begins to rise. Then she hears the paws of something wholly mundane, and the moment is past.

    "I must say, I was surprised at how quickly I was dispatched. Your request was only approved a few days ago." Then she adds diplomatically: "It's not as though the Council is known for their speedy response in such matters."

    Andros nods. "Mmm, indeed. Or any matters. The request was--more than a year old."

    Pippa's lips push to one side. "I see."

    "But! Safe is safe, aye? I'll take it." He's utterly thankful. Pippa can't help but admire it.

    "So what of your family, Agent? Who's awaiting your safe return."

    There’s a full on smile then, something rare from the ever-controlled Phillipa. Especially in the field. “I have few people who miss me when I’m gone. And I them. They’re a disparate pack, to say the least.” A subtle smirk. “But they’re mine.”

    “Pictures…?” he asks mischieviously. As they draw nearer to camp, she can hear the boys fuming. Their sister’s plot has been discovered.

    Her hesitation must be written on her face. Andros chimes in quickly. “If you’re as well read as you seem I--think you know my people. We are called ‘Kindly Ones’ for a reason, Agent. When we come, it’s rarely worse than a missing stocking!” The tiny gentlemen rubs his chin in affirmation. “And I think--maybe you want to be showing me anyway…?” Andros smiles up at her.

    If anyone asked Pippa why it was she would allow such a breach for this gentlemen and this gentlemen alone, she wouldn’t be able to answer. But in the moment, for reasons she can’t explain, the woman feels it’s the right thing to do. And more than that, he’s correct: she wants to show him. At the end of the day an Apex Human, is still only human.

    Undoing the flap of her tactical jacket’s lapel pocket, Phillipa slips her phone free. A few taps of her free hand’s thumb unlock the system. A few more isolate the list marked ‘recent’ from the rest of the photo album. Blajini aren’t known for their tech savvy, but even when being unsafe? One can never be too safe.

    To his credit, Andros seems to know what to do when she hands him the phone. Though it takes both of his small hands to operate it, he begins moving through pictures and smiles. “It seems you’re very loved, Agent,” he says happily. Then his furry eyebrows raise.

    It only takes Pippa a moment to realize what she’d missed: D.I. Meron, Reese when they were off the clock, had sent a picture as her last message. A selfie; what she’d planned to wear to the Crusades the night before. Pippa’s reddening cheeks are glad to have the cover of darkness. You train them as best you can, but there’s no accounting for taste.

    She reaches down. “I...apologize, Andros.” But the old Blajini only gives a guffaw as he holds out the phone to her descending hand with both of his.

    “No need.” Again his approximation of a sly smile. “One in every family, aye?”

    Pippa chuckles again. “Sometimes more than one.” Then they share a chuckle together.

    There’s a brief burst of chatter in her headset. Vampire sightings to the north and moving in that direction. Likely the pack that had been in pursuit from descriptions. Her mission outline detailed radio silence, or she would have inquired. Still, it was one more sign they were in the clear. Something she wouldn’t be able to believe fully until every tiny vehicle was safe and accounted for at their destination.

    “Do you know where you’ll go?” she asks as they finally come to the treeline.

    Andros gives the question only a little thought. “Hmm...Does it matter?”

    Just beyond is the campfire, where the three children are now being scolded by their mother. Under her instruction, they offer each other reluctant apologies. Still shrouded in the forest’s moving shadows, Andros hooks pointed thumbs behind the lapels of his cardigan. He watches his family in the firelight, and then offers himself an approving nod. After a moment, Pippa offers him the same.

    “No,” she says. “I suppose it doesn’t.”

    “Good answer, Agent! Now, come along,” Andros offers excitedly. Then he’s on the move again. “Tell me: have you ever had something called a ‘s’more’?”
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
    Archer Beckett likes this.
  3. Phillipa Graeling

    Phillipa Graeling New Member

    The Second Why


    I sip as she quietly processes, trying to make sense of the senseless.

    I don’t dare interrupt. Still, what comes next I’m ready for. The first ‘why’ is easy: “To sow pain; and so, fear. To send a horrible message, hoping it will debilitate someone you hate. That’s what’s at the heart of an act like that: Hatred.”

    What she says then, however, I’m not ready for. Though it’s the logical response from a mind so young.

    “But...for what?” she asks. “Why hate someone at all?”

    She sips as I quietly process, trying to make sense of the senseless.
     
  4. Phillipa Graeling

    Phillipa Graeling New Member

    Bollocks: Part 1
    ((With thanks to NicciPlayer for letting me dip into a great RP!))


    By the time he hears the steps, she's nearly closed the distance. He barely has enough time to bring the rifle to bear, only to grunt in surprise and frustration as squeezing its trigger does nothing. The sentry doesn't know the firing pin has been fused.

    DCI Graeling turns as she reaches him. Her right hand grips the rifle; her left throws a cross. The man’s head snaps to the side, throwing his earpiece free. Just after the blow the hand opens, gripping him by the skull and changing direction. Forcing him into the thunderous blow her knee delivers to his side. Ribs crumble. The Sentry crumbles. The right hook that follows is only insurance. At once the man and his earpiece clatter to the pavement.

    She doesn’t linger over the victory, eyes instead flicking two stories up where the second sentry is facing her. In the same moment fire is born in the palm of her hand, she notices the pair of blades extending from his chest. They vibrate and disappear. The Sentry drops, revealing DI Meron.

    Barely a hint of Phillipa's café au lait skin is visible past her collar, the rest hidden beneath the panels of the matte black, body armor. Only the sleek shape of her, despite the protective gear, hints at the athletic potential of her five foot, eight inch frame.

    One hand is on the pommel of the longsword sheathed at her hip. With the other the half-breed motions to deep brown eyes as, like a distant light set far behind her pupils, crimson shimmers subtly, and then is gone.

    As she crouches, Reese Meron’s response is to make a fist after flashing four fingers. The smaller woman’s motions tell a story. From the skylights she could see four men, all armed. They’ll be the first responders, but there are bound to be more.

    With a nod Pippa taps her headset. Reese mirrors the gesture on her own, and disappears. DCI Graeling draws the blade, then changes hands, reversing her grip. The blade runs parallel to her arm as she moves with purpose to cover the final yards to the door, back nearly against the wall. Reaching it, she braces and waits for the signal.

    Three clicks in her ear tell her Reese is in position. With her free hand, Pippa knocks harshly. Two sharp blows from her fist; position unchanged. Before her superior ears register heavy boots settling on the other side of the door, it's hinges have turned molten. At the sound of the view port's metal slat sliding open, Pippa turns. A powerful front kick frees the door from the frame, and drops it onto the unsuspecting guard.

    It’s a mid-sized room, more of an over-sized entryway. Opposite the now unhinged door is another doorway leading to a long hall and then the main building.. The perfect choke point for controlling traffic in and out of the facility. Aisles allow for movement among crates of all shapes and sizes. The other three men, all armed with sub-machine guns move up the main aisle, opening fire the moment they’ve turned the corner. As testimony to their training, the bursts from each rifle all strike center-mass.

    "I keep forgetting you're a creature of fire. I don't think you summon enough flames with me." Nicole grins conspiratorially, already having an inkling of what's to come.

    A curl of oily-looking smoke. A whiff of sulfur. An ember; then it grows. Expanding and reshaping. After only a few moments, the effigy of a butterfly hangs above Nicole's palm. She watches with fascination from start to finish, not wanting to miss anything. Though she can feel warmth, it's far from proportionate to the amount of flames hovering inches from her skin. When the effigy is fully formed she laughs giddily. "I'd find fire beautiful and fascinating too if I could do that with it!"

    She plays with the fiery butterfly, moving her palm up and down; back and forth. Flexing her fingers to feel the heat. And the butterfly appears to react to her movements. At one point it even flits up and away before circling back on flapping wings.

    Nicci rotates her hand, trying to get the butterfly to spin. "Are you doing this?" she asks with a grin, noticing how Phillipa's gaze is fixed on the butterfly as it obeys, then sets down on a fingertip. Nicole coos softly at it and reaches up with a neighbouring fingertip to stroke one of its fiery wings from below. She can feel the heat then, even intensely, but still not enough to burn. The admiration in her eyes shows her awareness of how long its creator must have had to have trained to get this effect.

    “I shape it and I maintain it,” Pippa nods. “There are certain things I've trained myself to do with the mental equivalent of muscle memory. The way you can reload your pistols while scanning an area? By reflex, almost? But even then, it's coming from me. If I stop?" The effigy simply disperses, embers winking out in its wake.


    The burning effigy of a woman’s form pays no mind to the rounds as they pass through. It reaches back and then unleashes a bolt of flame that strikes the Guard at the rear of their encroaching triangle in the chest. He stumbles backward from the blow, nearly taken off his feet by the force and Pippa sees her opportunity. Having dove into the room and the cover of its disparate crates the moment the door was down, she rushes into their midst, intentionally surrounding herself by stepping into the space the rear Guard has just stumbled out of.

    It’s him she strikes first, wheeling as she draws her blade across his chest. It passes through body armor, cloth, then flesh. She pours the momentum of a near 120 degree turn into a low round kick that folds the knee of the second Guard. He topples to the metal grating, rifle pelting the floor ahead and dispatching the pinned guard beneath the door. As the rounds strike the grating a deep roar nearly vibrates it in response, emanating from deeper inside the facility.

    Pippa has lost the initiative now; the third Guard is turning. She doesn’t linger. Again she takes a reversed grip on the pommel. The tip of her blade swings low to slash the prostrate second Guard. The attack is more a product of her body’s rotation then any muscle in her arm. As she turns she steps back out of the aisle. Clearing the line of fire between the effigy and the rear Guard. He’s attempting to lift his rifle despite wounds from blade and the first bolt when the second bolt hits. Pushing him from the room in plume of smoke and licking flames.

    The blade of her long sword arcs high as she retakes it in a proper, two-handed grip, before descending to cleave the helmet and skull of Guard three. A moment later the he's in a heap on the floor.

    The effigy simply disperses, embers winking out in its wake and the room falls temporarily silent. Temporarily, as she can already hear boots on the steps beyond the inner door. The sound of her skirmish has drawn every body in the building. Just as it was intended to. The perfect choke point for controlling traffic in, and out of the facility.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
    Nicole Silvestri likes this.
  5. Phillipa Graeling

    Phillipa Graeling New Member

    "You simply walked away?"

    "I put my affairs in order and resigned."

    "From even the Library?"

    "Yes, officially."

    "Phillipa, you so long to serve beneath the undeserving. What would you do in retirement?"

    "...You won't anger me. Try as you might."

    "A simple observation."

    "It's not retirement, Mother. There's an ongoing threat and I can fight—so I will. But I want to decide where and when I'm needed. And when I'm not? I want to be with my family, having a life. They deserve that."

    "Interesting..."

    "Of course you disapprove."

    "No. It is...impressive. A waste of potential; but impressive."


    Homefront


    "Reese?" Pippa calls from the driveway. She knows she's being ignored because that's the only option. "Probably changing her swimsuit. Again. You finally have a whole weekend…" She frowns. "I'll go get her."

    Nicole shifts her hips on the bike, accentuating the contact of Pippa's arms around her waist as they wait. "Stay right where you are, DCI Graeling."

    Finally Reese bursts onto the porch, immediately making a show of stretching in her less than modest running clothes. She grins: "...Fancy a race?"

    "Reese...," Pippa sighs, "No." But she feels her lover's stomach go taut; engine suddenly growling. "Nicci, N—!"

    * * *​

    Wet hair at her back. A sensation she'd come to associate with peaceful workouts at home, when bathing after can be done comfortably. And followed up with tea. But before she can reach for the kettle it rises off the range. Which then begins to rise as well. One arm pulls stove back to the floor. And when her ears warn her the refrigerator is next, she catches it with one foot hooked over its top. Then, for a moment, even Pippa begins to rise.

    "Pip, come see what I made!" Nicole calls as all fall back to the floor.

    * * *​

    They lay beneath a tapestry of colors. Reds, oranges, and yellows swaying in a breeze just cool enough to make lying close together the best way to lay. It's a slowly changing canvas. The leaves that cover them in places are drops fallen from the brush, and they dare not shift for fear of disturbing the work. It may be the most still either has ever been; so still the forest has begun to adopt them.

    "Can we stay ‘till they all come down?" she whispers.

    "Sure thing, Reeby."

    "Kay." After a moment she adds: "...Nicci?"

    "Yes?"

    "No cheating."

    "Okay."

    * * *​

    Three sighs of relief when Pippa lays down in her own bed for the first time in days. Deemed clear of present dangers and on mandatory leave for two weeks. The hummingbirds are at full volume; a concussion and two hairline fractures to her ribs have made Pippa the most popular flower in the field. And when she's finally asleep, Nicole finds a nigh jittery Reese pacing the living room.

    "Well you're on nurse duty cause she's a right awfully patient."

    Nicole smiles. "I know."

    "...We collect his fucking bollocks. We gotta," she declares.

    The smile is gone. "I know."

    * * *​

    Pippa collapses from knees and elbows to the bed, her chest heaving. Then Nicole falls against her back, delicious curves making themselves known. "...Should...we soundproof the bedroom?"

    "You think she's listening?" Nicole nibbles.

    "Try not to sound excited, my love," she teases. Even out of view Pippa can feel her fiance practically radiating innocence. "You don't?"

    "She could hear the viscosity of the drink your neighbor's pouring if she wanted."

    "Should we soundproof the neighbors too?" Pippa ponders.

    Nicole traces her lover's contours. "I've heard your neighbors screw. It's not that interesting."

    The half-breed sighs. "Not what I meant…"

    * * *​

    "You what?" Eyes find Pippa with righteous indignation. The Librarian raises her hands in surrender. Green spotlights shift back to Reese who does the dance of her people: squirming.

    "Mean...just never had the chance...is all."

    Nicole is already running the numbers, muttering to herself; taking the stairs four at a time. "Gonna need supplies…," are the last intelligible words. Then boots in the snow; her bike's engine howling. Reese looks intent on having her bottom lip for dinner.

    "It's nothing you did wrong, Magpie." Backs of Pippa's warm fingers find cool cheek. "Doc takes hot chocolate very seriously."
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
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