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Sunday, February 28th 2016 

10:30 AM

Espadas School of Self-Defense and Swordsmanship, Private Apartments

 

"It is still early for a Sunday Ma'am."  the personal assistant suggested quietly, the protest fell however on deaf ears.

 

"Marjorie, If this was not time sensitive I wouldn't be bothering the poor woman."  came the reply clipped but not cold, "Besides they have children and I have raised enough of those to know late mornings are likely the least of their concerns."  She added a bit more warmly, "Make the call please."

 

Thus on the crisp february morning the phone in the apartment housing the ever growing Espadas family began to ring.  The number was blocked, and at a very high level though expertise such as the household AI like as not could break it in short order and reveal the call as originating from Danger Internationals sprawling Hannover Campus.  When the phone was answered Marjorie spoke in a bright and clear tone, "Good morning, I'm trying to reach a Ms. Rebecka Danvers."  she requested politely, "Is she available?"

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"Phone! I get it! I get it!" The thickening of her waistline hadn't yet slowed down the agile thief but unless she was willing to vault the couch (which she wasn't for a probable telemarketer), she was not swift enough to beat Eden to the rarely used landline. Still, she was right on the toddler's heels, sweeping her up as Eden picked up the phone. The polished personal assistant was treated to a bellowed "H'LO-ESPADAS-RES'DENCE-WE-DON'-WANT-ANY" followed by shrieking giggles as she was finally caught. 

 

"Little monkey-" Talya sighed as she juggled the toddler to one hip and took the phone before more damage could be done. She cleared her throat, dropping her crisp British accent for a faintly midwestern twang, and not yet bothering to check the phone's ID, "Hello?" She said in easy greeting, a faint frown flickering across her features as she was asked for by alias. "This is she. How can I help you?"

 

"Mummy sounds weiiird," Eden complained at the dialect shift and as she squirmed to get down, Talya put the toddler back on the ground to let her continue racing around the apartment pell mell. 

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Marjorie was a bit taken aback by the youthful exuberance and as Talya wrested the phone the poised assistant questioned gently, "Is your mother or-"  quickly cutting off as an adult spoke, "Ah thank you Ms. Danvers."  she replied carefully, "I am calling from the office of Mrs. Rachel Dent-Danger of Danger International.  Please hold while I put you through."  she explained quickly and Talya could hear the telltale clicks of the call being transferred.

 

She could just make out a faint, "Thank you Marjorie."   before the kindly yet firm voice of Aces niece filled the earpiece.  "Good morning Ms. Browning."  She spoke clearly, "This is Rachel Dent-Danger, We've met briefly though I think this the first time we've been introduced without aliases."  She offered a lilting smile to her tone.  "I do hope I am not imposing but I had hoped to meet with you to discuss a family matter that I hope you will be able to assist me with."  She inquired carefully, "Over lunch perhaps?  I can have a car sent around, unmarked, if you would like."  she offered with care, "I apologize for calling you here."  she added carefully knowing that her connection to the Espadas was not something the woman likely wished widely known., "Unfortunately time is of the essence."  The elderly Danger awaited Bombshells reply with carefully controlled breathing, to most it was nothing but to one as trained in the arts of deception and intrigue as Natalya Browning it was clear.  Rachel Danger, granddaughter of Johnny Danger and CEO of Danger International was nervous.

Edited by angrydurf

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Damn you, Ace. What the hell have you gotten yourself into now?

 

 

"It always is with you Dangers, isn't it?" Talya's clipped tones reasserted themselves, the wry humor in her tone utterly at odds with the frown she was wearing on the other end. She turned slightly, pacing the floor towards the bedroom, phone tucked against her ear. Clearly, she was going to have to come up with some solution for making anything like public appearances over the next six months as she'd rather moved past the stage where empire waist-lines would suffice as a disguise. Vanishing into the closet, she sorted through her options, her expression growing more grim.

 

"Unmarked, please - and if you would be ever so kind, the less staff involved the better. I have been... keeping a low profile of late," Talya settled on as she emerged with clothing in hand, still frowning at her dress options. Maybe with an overcoat? It was still overcoat weather, after all. "Just how dangerous a favor do you expect this to be?"

 

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"Of course."  Rachel replied her voice soft and understanding, "I'd not-"  she paused not wanting to say much more over the phone, "We would like to keep this matter quiet for the time being as well."  She finally agreed offering further assurances, "My assistant even knows only that I wished to speak to Rebecca Danvers about a fundraiser matter."  she offered conciliatory, "I am sorry to bother you at home Ma'am."

 

The other end of the line went quiet for a long moment at Talyas question.  When the Elderly Danger scion spoke again her voice held some tension, "I am not certain but if my information is accurate the danger will be minimal."  Of course this was from a family famous for exploring booby trapped cursed tombs with eight year olds so 'minimal' could mean alot of things.

 

A short time later, though troublingly less time than it would take to dispatch from any known Danger holdings, an unmarked dark blue sedan pulled up in front of the School and idled while the driver awaited Talyas presence.

Edited by angrydurf

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Talya restrained herself from sighing. Really, she knew better than to ask. It was the bloody family name after all. "I understand," she said and then went to hang up the phone after the appropriate pleasantries. Changing quickly, she dialed Dimitri's number from speed dial and put him on speaker phone as she went to do what she could to downplay her current 'condition'. As soon as the phone picked up, Talya opened with, "I have a favor to ask. I hope you're free?" Without even so much as a proper 'hello'. If she knew nothing else about Ace's niece, she knew she didn't rattle easy. Frankly, Talya thought she'd be lucky to get her shoes on before the car arrived.

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"Am always free for my favorite spy," said Dimitri, his voice full of liquid delight. "And I owe you double favor after trip to Asgard. What a horrible smell in those stables!" She could hear his grin over the phone, then, "Have not heard from you in weeks, Talya, was beginning to think you were too busy with young people for old friends!" He spun in his office chair, lazily, feet folded beneath him and not quite touching the ground. "What are we doing?" he asked hopefully. "Espionage on hated foes? A little stealing?" 

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"If only," Talya said, humor returning to her features and her voice lightening briefly. "Do you know how long its been since we stole things from terrible people? Far too long. Perhaps, though, if we're lucky..." She gave a small shake of her blonde hair as she went to fasten up the buttons on her coat, "But, no, its Ace's niece - she has some sort of favor to ask and I probably ought not go alone. I, ah..."

 

Talya hesitated here for a moment, choosing her words carefully, "I'm not really in fighting form, so to speak. Nothing to fret over, truly, but it's not going to resolve for another five months or so. I know that 'meat shield' isn't really your favored form of exercise but would you be willing to indulge me as a very special favor?"

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"Of course, I-" There was dead silence on the line as Dr. Dimitri Peshkov, veteran of seventy years of superheroing and a trained physician, put two and two together, shock mounting in his dead breast for the first time in a very long time. "Wherever we are meetingI will be right over, Talya," he said in Russian. Once he knew where they were meeting, he thanked her and hung up - too rattled to stay on the line long. 

 

"Son of a bastard," he muttered out loud in accented English, second nature after so much time as Comrade Frost in the States. He slid open his desk drawer, fumbling around for his supplies. "Where is my gun?" he demanded to no one in his empty office, finally finding his old service pistol underneath a stack of articles about the mating habits of Western European dragons. When all the gear for what might be a long journey was packed beneath his blue and white parka, he decided to drive himself to the Danger Foundation building in Hanover. 

 

His arrival was humble enough, some time later, the old brown sedan he drove being among the older secondhand vehicles in the Freedom League's motorpool. Parking it on the street, he stepped out, looking around from behind big-lensed sunglasses. 

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"Hmm," Talya said after she hung up the phone, her expression thoughtful and perhaps a little pensive. Well, they'd have plenty of time to discuss things once Rachel had explained whatever the Danger family needed at the moment. One crisis at a time! 

 

Talya checked her look in the mirror, satisfied that the bulk of the overcoat would blunt enough of her silhouette for at least cursory inspection. She added a scarf, draped over her shoulders to further break up the outline of her body before she went to head out of the bedroom to let one of the adults in the family know she was stepping out. When it became clear that Min had taken the girls out to the park, she adjusted course to find Erik. 

 

Talya's blonde head appeared around the corner, "There's some crisis with the Danger family to be dealt with. Don't worry, I've already pestered Dimitri into coming along and it should be minimally dangerous, I've been told. Of course, same family that sends the smaller children in to disarm traps so perspective's a little skewed." She blinked large blue eyes then, "But Dimitri has promised to lick all the strange magic objects first." Talya paused, "I'm kidding, but I might be home late for dinner. I've already told the house plants."

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Talya had seen Erik face down some fairly dire situations with a broad grin of bared teeth but the expression currently on the man hunched over a kitchen table covered in tax forms and invoices was one totally bereft of hope. He was supporting his head with one hand, elbow propped up on the table, while the other clutched a piece of paper littered in empty boxes he needed to somehow fill with information. He was more than happy to toss it onto a pile with its fellows when the blonde poked her head into the room but his frown returned with a blink as he processed her words. 

 

"Woah, wait, as in Ace?" he asked unnecessarily as he slid his chair out from the table and stood up. I wasn't as if 'Danger' was a particularly common surname. "The last time you helped out with an Ace thing I didn't see you for a few years," the swordsman pointed out, almost managing to avoid flicking his eyes toward Talya's stomach in concern. Suggesting that her current state might keep her out of action wasn't going to get him anywhere but it was impossible not to worry all the same. "Lemme grab my coat, I'm coming, too. Taxes will just have to wait, oh woe."

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"I presume its in relation to Ace. He's the one I know best but if he were back in town, I'd have heard. I wouldn't be too worried, if Ace had found a way to actually kill himself - he'd have done it years ago," Talya agreed, stepping around the door frame as she followed him towards fetching his coat. Talya hadn't missed the glance towards her midsection and her brows arched up slightly. She resisted the urge to settle her hands there and crossed her arms over her breasts instead, hip cocked to one side under the bulk of her coat, "I have an accountant. You could use him, you know. He's very good - handles the trusts and all of that."

 

She didn't protest his company although as Talya took his arm, her tone gentled from teasing to affectionate, "I'm not going anywhere, you needn't fret. I have no desire to skip out on the back rubs I've been promised for the next few months."

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When Talya and Erik competed whatever preparations they felt were needed the would descend to see a car awaiting them.  Clearly from the timing the driver had been dispatched before Talya had been called though as promised the care was unmarked and low profile the driver an unassuming man of middle age, if not for the two heroes experience with such matters they'd not notice the subtle clues to his training as bodyguard and professional driver at all and likely like their neighbors assume it was a hired airport shuttle or similar.  

 

Once safely ensconced in the car the driver looked to them through the mirror, "Ms. Danvers, Mr. Espadas."  he spoke clearly his tone a practiced neutral, "Traffic is light we should arrive in about twenty minutes."  he offered genially as he eased the car into the bustling streets of the West End and skillfully navigated them across town to a small Hanover business park housing a minor Danger International subsidiary.  As the car pulled into reserved parking in front of the building they could see Dimitri climbing out of his older sedan to join them.

 

A receptionist awaited them in the lobby and with a practiced smile she alerted her employer of their arrival and showed them back to a spacious but simple office where the elderly Danger CEO awaited them.  "Welcome and thank you for coming."  Rachel greeted warmly eyes flicking studiously over Erik and Dmitri flanking her expected appointment.  With a gesture she invited them to sit and waved to the receptionist to offer refreshments from a small tray of fresh fruit, "Ashley makes a fine mimosa."  Rachel offered as well as they were seated remaining silent until the receptionist completed her duties and took her leave.  Once the receptionist was out of the room the older woman pushed a button on the desk and a high pitched whine of ultrasound could barely be heard by any sensative to such thing, "We may speak privately now."  She assured the group, "The visitor logs note that Ms. Danvers and company are meeting with my head of youth outreach about potential sponsorship for a West End youth program."  Her explanation was rote, the information the bare bones needed to convey the covert nature of the meeting to the old spy.

Edited by angrydurf

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Talya's smile for Dimitri at his arrival was bright and she stepped forward to give him a brief peck on the cheek. The red lips that were as much part of Bombshell's costume as her black domino mask left no smudge but the very brief embrace would certainly wash away any lingering doubts about what her heavy overcoat was hiding. "Dimitri, thank you so much for coming."

 

Talya had no hesitation in following Rachel to the room, exchanging polite pleasantries until the door clicked shut. With a practiced smile, Talya accepted one of the offered refreshments with elegant fingertips although she held it casually as conversation provided plenty of excuse to not take a sip right away. She inclined her head at the exchange of information. "Well, we'd certainly be interested in Danger Enterprises sponsoring more youth programs if you'd care to make that cover even better," she suggested with a wry twist of her lips. "What sort of trouble is your Uncle in this time? There are relatively few scenarios in which my particular skill set might be required for the Danger family - unless you happen to have gone very cutthroat in corporate warfare. Although it has been ever so long since there's been a real challenge in stealing corporate assets available.. and it's not even my birthday."

 

It was the sort of barbed banter that Talya was well known for but to those who knew her best, there was a little more bite to the words than simple banter. Talya didn't have any bone to pick with Rachel but there were certainly members of the Danger family who Talya did not get along with and without Ace there, the chance of having to deal with them increased exponentially. 

 

 

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Dimitri was shaken out of his brown study by the realization of just how old Rachel Danger looked. The little girl who Rex Danger had once told to stay away from the "creepy Red ice monster!" was now old enough to be a grandmother herself. Of course, that thought rounded him back to grandmothers, mothers, and the fact that Talya was pregnant. "Would not have missed such occasion for world, darling," he told Talya with a wink, his mouth running on autopilot even as he waited for them all to be alone. "And why me, eh, in our little party to track down Ace? Why old Frost?' He folded his hands before him on his lap, politely refusing Rachel's offer of a drink. If Ace had gotten in trouble with my government, again, I would have heard Moscow squeal long ago." He hmmed. "And same if he was trying to lay wait for Hel again." He carefully did not look at Erik as he spoke to Rachel and Talya. 

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Erik remained standing and let those better acquainted with the Danger family do most of the talking for once. Ace had used his resources to deduce the swordsman's secret identity with annoyingly minimal effort not so long ago but it was tough to know how much this old woman already knew about him; better to hang back for the time being, he reasoned. He resisted the urge to rub the back of his neck with one hand, crossing his arms over his chest instead, as it became pointedly obvious that Frost was ignoring him. Dimitri hadn't been entirely convinced that Erik and Min had Talya's best interests at heart after their last meeting and he had a feeling the Englishwoman's pregnancy wasn't going to do anything to convince her old Russian friend.

 

Inwardly he had to admit that he probably would have already taken a swing at himself in the same situation but then spies and vampires tended to be a little less direct than that. Something to look forward to, he thought morosely as he refocused his attention on the conversation at hand. He unfolded his arms to raise both hands as Mrs. Dent-Danger gave him a once over. "I'm just here to make sure this doesn't go all 'three hour tour' again," he spoke up finally.

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Rachel's sharp eyes took note as Talya artfully held the glass without drinking but the woman made no comment, despite her age she was well aware there were many reasons to mistrust gifts yet.  He smile was pleasant and she slanted Erik a wary glance at the spy's suggested sponsorship, "Ah well I can certainly see too it that any applications were reviewed by the youth outreach director."  She offered easily, adding with a slight smirk, "It was my understanding however that after my uncle's last visit the Espadas family desired,"  she paused thoughtfully in constructing her statement, "Greater distance betwixt our families."  she finally settled upon with a twinkle of amusement in her eye.

 

She however let the matter drop, if all that was requested from the Danger organization by the end of this conversation was favored partnership in charitable outreach she would be surprised indeed.  "No trouble." Rachel was quick to assure Talya then demure, "Well that we know of."  she slid her gaze to Dimitri with pursed lips the cold war and his fearsome reputation still more real to her than most people Frost encountered day to day.  "No no,"  she said with a laugh, "I dare say these days our relations with your government are less frosty than your own."  Rachel joked lightly and nodded to Talya, "Ms. Browning requested your aid is my understanding and we welcome your insights of course."  she clarified making clear her opinion was that he was here as a courtesy to bombshell nothing more.

 

When Erik finally broke his silence she nodded to him with a smile, "Yes quite."  she agreed with a sigh looking for the first time in the meeting tired, "That is the matter I would ask your aid of Ms. Browning."  she said finally and paused gathering her thoughts, "I need you to find my Uncle and deliver a message."  she said finally, "I fear he'd avoid our normal channels."  the elderly Danger clarified, "and I know you are a friend and discreet."  she spoke her voice stressing the importance of the later as her gaze swept over Frost and Erik.  Shoulders slumping under the weight of her task for the first time her voice was hushed when she spoke again, "My grandfather is dying."

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"A pity," Talya's inflection was flat, her expression studiously blank. Talya could have easily lied and offered pretty platitudes but her short response provided none of those things, a testament to the displeasure below the surface. The very last place that Talya really wanted to be was between Ace and his father. She set down the drink gingerly and twisted, her full attention on Rachel for the moment, "When I last left Ace, he was enjoying the rewards of his heroism on some dimension filled with attractive Amazonians but he could be - quite literally - anywhere within space and time along the multiverse. Even if we could find him, a rather large 'if', I am uncertain that even I can could convince Ace to come back and face mortality's effects on the people he knows."

 

Talya sighed then, the beleaguered sigh of one who felt she'd been given a fool's errand but was going to have to try to accomplish it anyways. She gestured slightly with one elegant hand, "Especially to deal with his father's mortality."

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There was a time when this news would have been an occasion of mild celebration - and a time when it would have meant mild regret. As it was, Dimitri was a little disturbed to realize that the news of his old rival's impending death meant very little to him - except for what it would mean for those he had cared for along the decades. Privately he thought that Danger Senior must be glad to have death's grip finally at his throat, after an extended senescence that had nonetheless let him outlive so many loved ones. "A difficult time, yes. It is hard thing for father to die away from son." He swirled the vodka in his own glass, ice crystals already forming on the glass itself from condensation. "We will do what we can do," he promised, and meant it. 

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Erik blinked once at the news but did a passable job at keeping the surprise from his face. Unlike the Talya or Dimitri he was only as old as he looked and hearing that Johnny Danger was on his deathbed was like being told that Santa Claus was succumbing to old age. He'd had the entire run of Jungle Patrol adventure books as a youth - all second hand and from mismatched printings - and it was a little difficult to think of the man as an actual person rather than a sensationalized fictional character. If he'd ever given thought to it he would have assumed that if the elder Danger was going to die at all it would have happened by then. "Sorry to hear," he offered smoothly despite his internal thoughts, giving Dent-Danger a sympathetic inclination on his head without presuming anything more. He didn't have any illusions that Johnny was much like his literary counterpart, no more than Ace had matched up to his expectations, but a death in the family was always difficult.

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Rachel let the less than heartfelt condolences slide by alongside the more genuine with a polite, "Thank you."  in response.  She shook her head at Talyas supposition, "We can't be certain of course but we have confidence that wherever my Uncles adventures have taken him it is not outside our own timestream."  she didn't offer details but given the resources of Danger International and the nature of Ace's travels it was not unlikely they had a crew of researchers seeking out historical anomalies in the rather public record of most of the immortals adventures.  "Moreover I don't ask you to convince him of anything,"  she clarified with a small smile, "I know better than most just what a daunting task convincing my dear uncle to sway his course is."  she assured them as she pulled a small envelope from one drawer extending it towards Talya, "I ask that you see this delivered to him and that he make his own decision." she said simply, "He deserves to know."  the elderly Danger intoned firmly as if this had been a matter of some debate within the family.

 

She looked over the assembled group and tapped one lip, "I had a vortex manipulator sent over from the museum collection."  she explained quietly, "However if all of you will be going we shall require other means I think."  she mused quietly as the lightweight wearable dimensional translocator was unlikely to serve the trio successfully.  That was a recipe for Dimitri's mind ending up in Erik or Talyas body and few things really could be a more horrible thought, perhaps being trapped in Dimitris body.  "The Purpura of Ganesha."  she finally settled upon after a moment and turned to Dimitri, "Are you familiar?"  she inquired with care, "It has been used in the past to break the barriers between worlds and should suffice for you all to travel to a chosen destination."  she suggested and called in her assistent to have the priceless artifact delivered from the families collection.  It would require of course a skilled practitioner to utilize but ought suffice should Dmitri be equal the task.

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"Well, at least there's not time travel. Small favors," Talya said with a long suffering sigh as she stood up gracefully to put her glass away. She had no doubt that Dimitri could make the artifact function. Her smile was stunning as she turned the full force of its power on Rachel. "Never fear, we'll see your message gets delivered. If you could let me have a few moments with my compatriots to discuss details and come up with our initial plan. It'll just take a moment or two while you see to the artifact's arrival and a room we might use for travel."

 

Talya turned on the full force of her charm and persuasion, smoothly managing Rachel out of the room before the accomplished CEO had time to process that she'd been neatly handled. Between Frost's 'Ha ha, I am kindly Russian grandfather' and that Erik had confined his conversation to approximately two sentences, Talya thought that perhaps having a few moments before hurtling through space, and perhaps time, might be a good idea. Especially with Dimitri handling the mystical gateway artifact. 

 

With 'Oops. Seem to have left father of children in limbo. Ah well. Dvum smertyam ne byvat, odnoy ne minovat' already echoing in the back of Talya's head, she turned towards them both with a clearly disarming smile. "Erik," she started, clearly deciding that the usually glib swordsman's sudden turn for the taciturn was a larger warning sign, "I'm sure we'll be back by dinner. Dimitri is very good at these sorts of things."

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Casually, Dimitri took out his revolver and began loading it, sliding the bullets into place in the chamber with practiced ease. He sang audibly under his breath, not in the Russian that meant he was actually singing, but in accented English. "Brightly shone the moon that night; though the frost was cruel..." He set the gun casually down on the desk in front of him and said, "Oh yes, young fellow, is no problem. Talya and I, we have pulled Ace out of big frying pans before this, easy-peasy." He waved a hand Erik's way, then went on, "Is funny, you know, artifact actually means Skin Rash of Ganesha, because you can pop up anywhere on face of god with it. Those Hindu fellows, such jokesters!" He laughed, then turned back to Erik and went on. "Say, speaking of good jokes, I think old Frost has missed punchline." He pulled back the hammer on the revolver and said, "You, young fellow, what do you think you have been doing with this international treasure of a woman?"

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Rather than tensing up at the sound of the hammer Erik actually seemed relieved, letting out a short breath. At least now they could get this conversation out of the way; at some point being menaced by a handgun had lost much of its novelty. "See, this is why we need to keep working on the 'disclosing important information to people who care about you' thing," he told Talya in an aside before turning his attention back to Dimitri and his pistol. Evidently the conversation with Dent-Danger had used up most of his supply of self-restraint as a puckish smirk began to pull at one corner of his mouth. "I sort of feel like that medical training you like to talk about should fill in the blanks there, Corncob," he retorted, drawing up to his full height and crossing his arms while shifting his weight subtly to one leg in case he needed to suddenly dive out of the way. He could appreciate where Frost was coming from, sure, but he wasn't going to find any apologies coming at him with that attitude. 'Young fellow' indeed. "And you ought to know that the last angry sibling who wanted to have this conversation with me was a moon. Tough act to follow, y'know?"

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"Dimitri!" Talya scolded as he pointed the gun towards the other man only to turn towards Erik with an exasperated expression on her face. "Erik, must you really encourage him to do something more impressive than point a gun at you." She added with a sigh before stepping in between the two men. For a moment, Talya felt like her life might actually be turning into one of those ridiculous serials. Unreasonably, she couldn't help feel that there was something around the Dangers that seemed to warp reality in that direction. 

 

Talya, however, refused to go along with that script. "Misha," she said to Dimitri, her voice gentling into the affection she generally reserved for private, "Do you really think that at this late date, I've decided to let people tell me what to do? I've always chosen my path. I choose this too." The last she said with a gesture towards Erik. "Come, you'll enjoy being Dyadya Dimitri, won't you?"

 

Having said her piece, she took a step back then to give a wave of her hands. "Now, if you two wish to bond in pugilistic fashion, by all means take part in masculine ritual bonding in the style of your ancestors now that we've established I'm perfectly capable of handling my own honor."

 

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