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June 1, 2020 There had been much negotiation about how Vanguard would arrive in Rurland. Air travel to the new nation was heavily restricted, particularly in the wake of the single Russian military intelligence drone flight over the region (which had resulted in the addition of nearly a hundred pounds of machine parts for the new nation.) But the big teleporters built into Poliske's old administrative building, the ones that the intrepid journalists had used for their visit to what Americans in the know mockingly called "the Reservation", those had their downsides too - nobody was particularly interested in having their molecules broken down and reconstituted by machines built and controlled by Talos. So instead a compromise arrangement had been reached, and Vanguard (plus their guest member) had flown in from London on a surplus passenger plane loaded with human refugees taking shelter in the arms of Talos - mostly Venezuelans who were on the second leg of a flight from Bogota, needed technical specialists with families and children. They'd been flying over Belarus for an hour now and were approaching the former exclusion zone, and the heavily jet-lagged refugees aboard were waking up and nervous. They were a mixed bunch, mostly in surplus clothes, wary of the foreign heroes, and from the sound of things ready for where they were going - at least emotionally. Eira had not socialized, at least once it was clear no one on board required her immediate assistance. Up front in the pilot's compartment, she'd connected directly to the plane's computer network by means of a curling dataspike from the bottom of her sleeve and remained largely quiet during the flight from London. Dressed in a bulky brown sweater and worn-down jeans, she was a bit overdressed for a Ukranian summer - but with her hair dyed black, could have blended in almost perfectly with the refugee crowd.
April 2020 Eira Katastroff and Kay Tregennis were friends. Oh they had their differences. Eira's parents had doted on their only daughter all their lives. Kay's parents had all but lost sight of their youngest child until the bus crash that had left her in a locked-in condition. Eira's parents were wealthy, the sort of northern European old money that could have stepped off the set of Downton Abby: The Later Years, Kay's parents were dairy farmers living close to the edge of poverty on the coast of Cornwall. Eira liked metal music and Kay liked chav-hop, Eira loved science and Kay wasn't really interested in anything except her art. Eira was of average height and liked to dye her hair and experiment with her physique, Kay was short and liked her red curls. But they did have one thing in common that had brought them both together - they were both young European women who had made the transition from organic to synthetic bodies about the same time; raised together, discussed together among the circles of super-scientists familiar with their respective cases. There weren't so many people like that that you could ignore one, and they'd had enough experiences and people and places in common that she (along with Synapse) were probably the people in Freedom City who really knew Kay well. If anyone had. She was legally of age; there'd been nobody to stop her from walking out of school, buying tickets to the Ukraine, and then simply walking across the border to Rurland. Eira had gotten Lady Farrington's message about reaching out to Kay - and so at the appointed time, had arrived at her front door. She was dressed 'down' today, in a jean jacket and Amon Amarth black T-shirt, a small belt of gear hanging around her waist as she knocked.