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Adventure! RPG: Heroes of Our Time - part one: Kaliningrad

Alex Craft

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Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian Federation

September, 2011

Kaliningrad has been part of Russia since 1945, when the Soviet Belarussian Army stormed the city after four days of carpet-bombing by the RAF, reducing ninety percent of the city to rubble and sending sixty thousand of its civilian residents to their graves (with most the rest sent fleeing the Soviet army in ragged refugee columns).

It was formally attached to the Soviet Union later that year, when the Potsdam Conference allowed Stalin to keep it as a year-round, ice-free port. All remaining German residents were expelled to make room for Russian colonists, and the Soviet government set about systematically erasing the remaining traces of German culture.

This city, renamed Kaliningrad, is now an exclave of Mother Russia - the westernmost point in the Russian Federation, pocketed in between the Baltic Sea and the European Union. A monumental expression of Soviet ugliness, it stretches out in concrete waves, studded endlessly with war memorials and statues of long-dead cosmonauts.

The streets, German cobblestone sealed over with decaying Soviet asphalt, are lined with gray, green, and taupe tenement blocks still plastered with slogans of communism ("bread and motherland" ... "victory to heroic Soviet workers"), these last beginning to be edged out by the competing slogans of Nike, Panasonic, and Coca-Cola.

The earth seeps with military slurry, toxins rusting their way into the soil as two pulp mills spew chemicals into the city's only source of water, the Pregolya River. The tap water here is visibly green, so heavily chlorinated that its chemical smell fills the air.

The city boasts the highest proportion of drug addicts in the Russian Federation, the most AIDS sufferers, and forty percent of the population is below even Russia's extraordinarily low poverty line. The population is silent, generally alcoholic, often depressed. Oddly, the girls are astonishingly pretty, which - less surprisingly - fuels an endemic spread of prostitution.

Kaliningrad is half-forgotten, half-ignored by the rest of the world, remembered only insofar as its corruption acts as a gateway for vast quantities of drugs, sex slaves, armaments, and illegal immigrants into the European Union's free trade market. It possesses a kind of unremitting, hideous brutality that seems ingrained into the very concrete.

It is a poor place for a hero to die.

* * *

Gostinitsa Kaliningrad (Hotel Kaliningrad)

The taxi pulls up in front of the hotel - a nicked up black Fiat Panda with no special external markings. It is unregistered, driven by a pinched-looking local man all too willing to cross town from the airport for some USD. It's generally considered an unhealthy idea to take an unregistered taxi in this city, but the passenger (one Mark Cobb) figures he doesn't have much to worry about.

Mark steps out and pays the man, turning back to the hotel, an eight or nine story edifice of crumbling concrete, the facade a blank wall punched with holes for the windows. It is definitely Soviet-era ... it has that kind of steely resistance to aesthetic sensibilities that you get in mid-to-late Soviet architecture.

Inside it is nicer, though Mark couldn't say if that's a sign of relatively recent renovation, or simply because the party leaders got the good stuff. Once upon a time, this was the best hotel in the city, home away from home for Soviet admirals come to inspect the Union's Baltic port.

Now it is a little less impressive. The hotel bar is filled with European Union bureaucrats, come to wring their hands over the oblast's future, drink vodka, and negotiate aid packages with semiprofessional hookers from the technical college.

The concierge directs him to the sixth floor, where he finds an aging, grey-faced woman at a desk near the elevator banks, giving painstaking directives to a pair of pretty maids with strikingly peculiar dye-jobs. The woman, who seems to more-or-less run this floor, sends him the rest of the way to his destination.

That would be room 652, down the hall and to the right, and it looks like he must be just about the last person to arrive.

It's a smallish room, by familiar standards, with the walls covered in slightly peeling yellow wallpaper stenciled with geometric designs. The furniture is solid wood, probably hand-carved by some commune back in the day and now too old and heavy to get dragged away, despite the recurring hammer and sickle motifs worked into the wood.

It's crowded, for the room's size. Some of the people here Mark recognizes. Others not.

He picks out Raphael Bradford right off, of course ... his cousin, though you wouldn't know it to look at them. Misha Valyenko, Raphael's bodyguard, is here as well (and quite impossible to miss), and Mark recognizes the woman stepping out of the closet of a bathroom as Regan McLachlan, from the Aeon Society.

Zorbo is here too, Clay Zorbo, and he is talking to Raphael as Mark opens the door. He's a lean man ... muscular, but lightly-built, with crisp, dynamic movements and strong, regular features, wearing a bomber jacket, paratrooper boots, and much-pocketed pants of some unidentifiable stiff black cloth.

Also present are a couple of men Mark has zero familiarity with. One is a pale, grey-haired man in a rather nice suit, the other a long-fingered, mid-twenties man with dishwater blond hair and a jumble of gadgets in hand (unrecognizable to Mark's eye).

The sixth person in the room Mark does recognize, though it takes a second. He's a neat, somewhat round-featured man, well-dressed, with very little remaining hair. He has a build that you wouldn't normally look twice at, disguising the leather toughness and whipcord speed of one of the world's greatest pugilists.

His name is Whitley Styles, and Mark knows him from occasional bits of family business as one of the top men in the Aeon Society ... more than a hundred years old, though he looks like he could be in his forties. He has a towering reputation: master detective, deadly combatant, and one of the bits of bedrock upon which the Society has stood in the past eighty some-odd years.

He is also now dead. He is laying in the middle of the floor with a hole the size of a grapefruit through his chest, and the heavy brown carpet is caked with long-dried blood. The sickly smell of blood is in the air, though (judging by sight and smell) the body has not yet begun to decay.

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Raphael excuses himself from Clay and Misha and moves to greet Mark. Though their families are hardly close Raphael does not entertain all of the sensibilities of his kin and is still willing to talk to the family's black sheep.

"Mark, how was your flight? Hopefully not too bad, as you can see there's a bit of a pickle here. We figured that it would be best to wait a little longer and see if you got here before I started on an examination of the body, always best to have as many eyes as possible."

Raphael gives Mark a firm handshake and then moves off toward Misha. He takes off his expensive wristwatch and a couple of rings and hands them to the giant Russian in return for a pair of rubber gloves.

Pulling the gloves on Raphael asks as he kneels down by the body, "Now that we are all here shall I begin?"

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Misha nods grimly as he pockets the effects and motions for the doctor to remove his jacket as well with a swirling motion of his giant finger. He takes the jacket and folds it neatly (it almost looks as if it could fit in his pocket) and tucks it under one arm.

"Doctor...I would...make this a brief examination. When the police arrive they will expect...not us. I will speak with them though and see if we can get proper accomodations for your work." says Misha, rolling the Rs with his thick russian accent. He turns to the newcomer, examining the face and going through his mental list of Dr. Bradford's friends, relatives and acquaintances.

"Mr. Cobb." he says finally, recognizing the man. "It is good to see you." he adds extending his giant right paw and offering a warm smile.

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Regan McLachlan looks down on the body and mutters a few choice words. "You know Whitley Styles taught me investigation techniques, right?" she said conversationally as she places her hands on her hips, only her thinned lips betraying her tension.

"I liked the guy. Hell, my granddad considered him a damn fine man, and it took a lot to be a friend of Doc Lock's. This is just so freakin' pointless for such a man to die like this, in a room decorated with symbols of a pointless past - no offence, Misha."

The striking blonde narrows her eyes and examines the room in one swift glance. "Sorry for the soapbox routine, people. I'm not looking forward to telling my granddad what the hell happened."

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Originally posted by Misha Valyenko:
"Mr. Cobb." he says finally, recognizing the man. "It is good to see you." he adds extending his giant right paw and offering a warm smile.
"Misha," said Mark as he clasped that giant hand with both of his, "You seem bigger every time I run into you, which is a little disturbing. Nice to see you again.'

He looks around the room and adds in a light conversational voice,

"Sooooo.... What the hell is going on?"
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Misha nods and gives a brief but warm smile to Mr. Cobb and pumps his hand one more time. "Thank you Mr. Cobb, we are apparently the first on the...scene" begins Misha, obviously searching his English vocabulary for the best words to use. "of this murder of Mr. Whitley Styles."

He turns to Regan and her comment. "I assure you Doctor McLachlan there is no offense taken. I and my family have for years witnessed and fought against the pointless evil that haunts this place. Some are upset that such a grand enemy could have such a...humbling death, but I think it is appropriate...not of this man but of the regime that ruled here once of course." He leans over her and the body, then steps aside so his huge shadow does not block her light.

"Is there anything I can do for you Doctor? Doctor?" he says also to Dr. Bradford.

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The Rakozi's have come here as representatives (unofficially) of EU's security interests. For Janos, it has been a chance to look over the once proud remnants of the Soviet ... now Russian Army and Naval assets. He is far from impressed. For his companion, it has been more an ordeal of understanding who was the most corrupt, who was going to be a complete obstacle to improving the lot of the average citizen of this enclave, and who was salvagable.

On the way back, Tasha turned to Janos.

"Uncle," she addressed Janos, "we are going to need more than just you and I to turn this ... this ... hellish cluster-fuck around."

Janos turned slightly to his Grandniece and raised a single eyebrow. Not because she cussed, mind you, but because Tasha was the optimist of the family.

Tasha began listing off the deficiencies that seperated Kaliningrad from the Civilized World; Underfunded and collapsing medical infrastructure with an devestating epidemic on the horizon, a police force that was either totally corrupt, or totally afraid of doing anything that might get them killed, The Army was a shambles, The Navy was rotting at the docks, Morale was was in the crappers, and organized crime was the strongest force in the city.

Janos listened patiently to Tasha's lists of obstacles in silence. He appreciated her passion for this assignment, their first, but worried about the emotional cost of this project on her young psyche.

That changed right after the phone rang. Janos answered it, but kept his reactions subdued. Tasha could tell that something bad had happened.

Janos caught Tasha's worried expression.

"Something very bad has happened, Tasha."

"Uncle, has it anything to do with our mission here?"

Janos was about to say 'No', but realized he knew nothing about what was going on.

"We shall see," Janso responded.

Tasha wasn't pleased with that response, but kept her tongue for now. Her Uncle, Great-Uncle actually, was in an odd mood.

Inside Janos, something ancient stirred. He was intrigued by this tragic turn of events. It had been a long, long time since he had wanted to peek beyond the veil of the unknown. There was a lot of pain back there, in his past, but there was also something else that allowed Janos to deal with these painful memories. It was hunger for adventure. The hunger to right a wrong ... to set the world aright in some small manner. From the depths of his mind, Janos remembered that this was what living was all about.

They arrived without incident at the hotel. Without thought, Janos held the door for his neice. Tasha came out, keeping her laptop case close to her side. Even in a high security zone like this, she still worried about robbers.

Whatever is going on here is being kept low key. No police (called militiamen here in Russia) were in evidence. Janos and Tasha get on the elevator and made their way to their rooms on the Sixth Floor. As the walk down the hallway toward their room, Janos picks up the hint of a few voices he barely recalled.

Turning to Tasha, Janos said,

"Go to the room and begin putting your report together. I have to check on what's going on down there," he says, pointing down the hall.

Janos waits until Tasha is safely inside their room before walking down to the still open doorway.

Once inside, he immediately recognizes a few of the people in the room. Raphael he recognizes from family visits, and Styles is a fellow relic, if a far more active one. For a moment, Janos feels a tiny rip in his soul.

Another one of us gone he thinks sadly.

Looking up to Raphael, he answers the unasked question. Its more formality than anything else, but still Janos feels it needs to be said. He did side with Divis Mal against this man, after all.

"It wasn't me," Janos says sadly. "He was too valuable to the Inspired as a people and his death is a loss to us all."

Janos begins to look around the room as well, looking, but not touching not sure what the death of this legend ... in this hell-hole may fortell for the rest of the people in this room.

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Misha stiffens at the approach of Janos and steps nearer to Raphael, who seems unaware of his approach as he examines the wounds.

"Doctor...Doctor Bradford. Someone is here to see you."

Misha obviously knows a bit about Janos and his history, but it is just as obvious he doesn't consider him a threat...yet.

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"I should have brought the ambiant noise silencer prototype," Raphael mutters under his breath before looking up, "Listen if you can't add anything constructive I would appreciate the small talk be kept quite while ... I ... work ..." he trails off having seen Janos for the first time.

Raphael stands and clears his throat, slightly embarrased at the outburst. He goes to shake Janos's hand but realizes he has gloves on and stop, "Hello again Janos, how are things?"

Raphael blinks, realization crosses his face that he is wasting what little time he has to examine the body, "We'll have to catch up later I'm afraid, god only knows how much time I have. Misha, do me a favor and have Mark take some photos with the digital camera, we could use a visual record."

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Mark starts with the corpse then starts working outward in a methodical circular pattern.

"Try not to move too much and deffinatly do NOT touch anything. Of course, you all know that but it needed to be said."

When he comes across a person in his pattern he also takes their picture then moves on. He takes more than one picture of the pretty people.

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Janos barely avoids shaking Raphael's hand. Instead he clicks his heels and inclines his head briefly.

"I understand. Work now; talk later."

As Mark gets to work, Janos nods again to Clay and leaves the room. He walks down to his own temporary residence and knocks before entering.

Tasha looks up from her work, her eyes wide-open and questioning.

In Hungarian,

"Someone, or some group has killed Whitley Styles."

Tasha nods and adds,

"He was once your enemy, no?"

"That was in the past, Tasha. Moreover, Styles was a formitable combatant and a clever advesary."

"Uncle, this could cause us some problems when ... if this gets out."

After a moment, Tasha adds,

"Who is handling the investigation?"

Janos rubs his chin.

"Clay Zorbo is here, but I believe Raphael Bradford is in charge. Perhaps it is time you met him."

Tasha raises an eyebrow at this uncharacteristic gesture by her usually over-protective guardian. She folds her laptop and gets up to follow him.

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After handing over a camera to Mark from one of the many pockets of his voluminous coat he cocks his head towards Janos as he avoids Raphael's hand.

"Here you go my friend, it has a new memory chip and is fully charged." he says to Mark as he steps out of the way. He follows Janos towards the hall, mainly to see where he goes once he exits the room. He doesn't follow more than a few steps into the hall before he slowly turns back and returns to the scene.

"Dr. Bradford...is he supposed to be here? I have heard...things about him."

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Clay retreats to the window, watching as the professionals begin to sort through the room. He runs through brief introductions, filling in gaps of familiarity, where they exist.

Clay Zorbo, himself, has an intense presence about him ... he's lean and athletic, blond-haired and blue-eyed, with an unconscious charisma that is only barely dimmed by his current distraction and tension. Even for those who don't know him, it's immediately clear that he's a man of action - his inability to directly contribute to the situation makes him a little fidgety, standing in the back of the room.

He helps as he can, though, dropping occasional observations and suggestions and generally connecting the dots between Mark, Misha, and the couple of pros currently at work.

The man with the long fingers, unfamiliar to everyone in the room excepting Regan (and only passingly familiar to her), turns out to be an Isiah Tsedek - some kind of technologist, to judge by the devices he's unfolding on the bed. It isn't hard to see that he has some kind of problem with Janos' presence here, but he restricts himself to pointedly ignoring the elder man while Janos is in the room.

Regan has been examining the room since arrival, but hasn't found anything particularly revealing yet. It looks like Styles didn't do much at all here ... the bathroom seems unused, the bed is still crisp, and his luggage is still in the corner, not yet unpacked.

The hotel staff says that he checked in yesterday afternoon, went out immediately, then came back during the wee hours of the morning today, between 2:00 and 3:00. Considering the state of the room, it seems likely that either someone was waiting for him here, or they caught up with him very shortly after he got back to the room.

Styles was shot - that much is obvious to everyone present. The more difficult questions are 'from where?' and 'with what?' It is a small room, and very few weapons will make a hole as big as the one that Styles' body sports at this short a range. Certainly nothing that could handle a silencer, and - even here - it seems improbable that a gunshot could go off without note.

The angles (judging by the splatter from the gunshot and the position of the body) suggest that Styles might've been shot from the window, though a glance in that direction doesn't present any immediately obvious positions from which to fire. The window is open, as are many of the windows in the city - the weather, if nothing else, is pleasant. Locating the bullet might be of help in narrowing down the possibilities.

As for the body itself ... Raphael confirms that, yes, Styles was shot in the chest with a heavy-caliber weapon. There's no evidence of a struggle (defense-injury bruising, or anything of that nature), and everything points to a simple one-shot kill. No burns to indicate particularly close range, either.

Time of death is more difficult to pin down, with the equipment he has to work with at the moment. Raphael would guess, from looking at clotting and other signs of an aging corpse, that Regan's estimate (working out to somewhere around 3:00 am) is about right.

Raphael works without disturbing the body, for the moment, as Regan and Mark study and record the room. There're no signs of another person on the scene - particularly no footprints in the blood, aside from what the little group of investigators has unavoidably made. Between the size of the room and the amount of blood, it is nearly impossible to cross the floor without leaving some mark.

Likewise, Styles doesn't seem to have been disturbed since his death. He is laying naturally, there're no inappropriate marks dried into the blood, and his clothing seems untouched. It's possible to make out his wallet in his front right pocket, and he might have something else of importance on him. (He is wearing a pair of slacks, a button shirt, and a light leather jacket, which are in varying degrees of ruin.)

Tsedek finishes unpacking on the bed (Regan'd already told him it seems clean of useful evidence), and he begins to fiddle with his gizmos, soon mentioning, in a mutter:

"A broch! Damn difficult with so many of us in th' room. I'm thinking, maybe, there was a spike in Z-wave activity here, around time a' death. More than what this guy would've done, if what I hear c'n be trust."


When Janos returns, Clay cliffnotes the situation for him and Mark:

"The Society asked Regan and I to come down and check this out. Apparently, the maid found it this morning. First glance said things might get ugly, if whoever's responsible is still around, so I had Rei check and see if there was anyone nearby we could call. [to Mark and Janos] That's you. And, no, I have no idea how she tracked you down on this kind of notice."

"And, so, that makes us all up to date ... we're pretty much working without a net here. I think maybe the Society knows a little more about this, but they haven't seen fit to share, yet."

Regan agrees. She spoke to Tallon and, while he didn't exactly seem to be giving her a runaround, it seemed like something was being held back. She suspects it has something to do with why Styles was in Kaliningrad in the first place.

Maybe Annabelle Lee will have more to offer when she arrives from the Society, though that's not a face Regan's particularly looking forward to seeing, given the circumstances. Annabelle Lee Newfield-Styles.

Tasha hangs back in the doorway, flinching away for a moment when she sees the body. She regains her cool right off, but still avoids looking at the body ... glancing at Raphael before averting her eyes and sending her gaze wandering around the room, eventually resting on Clay, in the back.

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"Dr. Bradford...is he supposed to be here? I have heard...things about him."
Raphael doesn't hear Misha at first and as the larger man begins to repeat Raphael turns toward him still crouching by the body, "Huh? ... oh Janos ... well Jameson says he was honorable but at times involved with the wrong side of things.

"He did help me out a few years back when I needed to smuggle some components from one of Ziegfried's labs back to the US for study. Don't worry about him but do keep an eye open, at least until we can fingure which side he's working for nowadays ..."
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Misha nods and reaches into his pocket, offering Dr. Bradford a handkerchief to wipe his hands after examining the body.

"Very good Dr. Bradford, but please...take care in your dealings with him. He is...legendary." he reaches into another pocket and pulls out a package of expensive mints, takes one and offers some to Dr. McLachlan, Dr. Bradford, and Mr. Cobb.

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Raphael takes the gloves off rolling them into each other inside out and absentmindedly tosses them into the nearby wastebasket. He wipes his hands of the talc from the gloves and passes on a mint. "Without access to more advanced testing I think I've done what I can. Did anybody find the bullet? There should be a bullet or a bulet hole somewhere here in the room, no way to cause that kind of trauma without the bullet impacting the wall."

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Janos returns to the room with a conservatively dressed young lady. For the moment, the two stand apart from the investigation and remain quiet. While Janos lets his eyes room the room, his companion seems to be studying the other people in the room. Occassionally, she pushes her slender glasses up the bridge of her aristocratic nose in what appears to be an unconcious habit.

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The trajectory of the bullet is fairly easy for anyone to plot ... window ... corpse ... liberal smear of red all over the wall. And there's the bullet hole, somewhat lost in the mess on the wall.

Mark missed it the first time around thanks largely to second-rate construction. It looks like it punched clear through the wall, touching nothing but a couple of sheets of plaster on the way through ... the insulation has all slumped down into the lower half of the wall cavity, and it looks like someone forgot to put any ply wood on this stretch of wall.

With so little to interfere with its passage (and, apparently, plenty of momentum to spare), the bullet left a hole just about the size of a quarter. Mark peers through into the hallway, traces the line of sight, then has to go out into the hall to dig into the opposite wall. He comes up with a bullet, lodged halfway through a two by four stud in that wall. At least it didn't go clear into the next room.

It is, at this point, fairly deformed, but he'd figure it to be a basic 7.62 rifle round. It looks about right, and variations on that round are used both as the NATO standard and as the Russian standard, if you're using a sniper rifle.

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Raphael takes the bullet from Mark and peers down at it in his hand. "Regan I always look for th easy answer first, often times it saves me a great deal of work.

"Once I get back to my hotel I can whip up a quick computer simulation and hopefully figure out just how far away this was fired from."

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With the mention of the window Misha's head flashes towards it as he inwardly curses himself for his slowness, Dr. Bradford had walked in front of that window maybe a dozen times! Carefully, so as not to cause a panic he interposes himself between the window and Dr. Bradford.

"Mr. Cobb, perhaps it would be better to check that later, we might be watched right now. It would not be the first time a sniper killed a person to draw his real target out."

He hands a small plastic container from his pocket to Dr. Bradford that he can put the bullet in.

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Raphael drops the bullet into the small plastic container and hands it back to Misha adding a "thank you" as he continues to look about the room. He turns to Clay, "Are the locals at all interested in this case or do we pretty much have carte blanche in regards to the eveidence?"

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Mark shrugs indifferently.

"If they shoot at me then I expect you'll be able to get a good idea regarding trajectory and range... If they tag me you'd also get another bullet to work with."

Despite his bravado, Mark is extremily cautious looking out the window and exposes himself very little, if at all. He is also fairly quick about it.

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The two Hungarians listen to the discussion going on around them then talk quietly together in their native tongue.

"I want to go see were the assassin was at, Tasha" Janos says. "You stay close to Raphael if things go badly. He should look after you."

"Uncle", Tasha responds quietly, but with some heat, "I should go with you. Beyond Clay, can we really trust any of them?"

"Yes", Janos responds. "There is much honorable blood in this room. Hopefully, it will prove true ... again. Beyond that, Neice, listen to them and remember what they learn. Are you armed?"

Tasha gives her Uncle a stern look, but does not reply.

Janos steps forward and in accented English,

"There are plenty of people here. I am going across the street and seeing if we can find the exact spot the assassin fired from. I need an investigator. Any volunteers?"

Janos moves besides Mr. Cobb and looks out the window, standing in full view. His eyes trace the trajectory, confirming what the others have already discovered. Knowing were he needs to start looking, Janos turns and walks toward the door. Looking at the others, he goes,


Standing there in the door, it becomes easy to believe half of the stories of this man. He has led troops in two World Wars, as well as in wars less known. It was said, his men would follow him into hell, and that rumor seems all too true. Janos' pose is aristocratic and proud, and his cold, grey eyes show a fierce determination.

As her Uncle moves around the room, Tasha slowly meanders her wasy closer to Raphael. If Raphael, or Misha look closely, they realize she is a stunningly attractive young woman who hides her beauty behind a conservative guise. Also, her glasses are an affectation and not real. Whomever confronts her, she will smile at and offer her hand, saying,

"Lady Natasha Rakozi, at your service."

She holds her hand in such a manner that recommends a kiss be placed upon it.

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Misha steps closer and slightly in front of Dr. Bradford, as if to answer Janos's repeated request for a volunteer. He goes where Raphael goes. When Natasha steps forward he scans her with little subtlety before taking her hand and kissing it.

"Mikhail Valyenko. Call me Misha. This is Dr. Raphael Bradford." he says, stepping aside slighlty to give her some access to him.

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Regan offers Tasha an entirely friendly nod, her gaze shrewd behind a pair of yellow-lensed aviator sunglasses. The blonde herself didn't seem concerned about the beauty concealed behind a conservative exterior, but looking at her denim jeans embroidered with sapphire-blue and rose-pink sequins in the shape of gaudy flowers, t-shirt printed with a picture of the Hindu god Krishna on a background of blue and pink and a beat-up denim jacket decorated with some Native American ribbonwork, no one would guess she was one of the world's finest academics.

And maybe it was just a woman thing.

"Don't get your knickers in a knot, Janos. Mark can play target, since he does that so well, and Tasha can assist Misha and Raphael here. That leaves me to accompany you."

Her voice seems more amused than awed by Rakozi's presence.

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"Works for me. I'll stand here and watch as you cross the street. As soon as you think you're in the spot, wave to me and I'll couch down about where was shot."

He shoves his hands into the pockets of his beat-up leather jacket.

"If I see anything unusual headed your way, I'll scream REAL loud."

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At Mark's comment, Janos chuckles.

"Screaming real loud works for me," he replies jovially.

If Janos is at all distrubed by working with this casually dressed woman, he doesn't show it. Once Regan joins he, he says,

"We need to stop by my room first, incase there is trouble."

Janos leads Regan down the hall to his room opens the door and walks in. He takes off his jacket and pull a sword and scabbard out of his clothe's bag. He straps the sword to his back, with a leather loop over his left shoulder and a belt clips it at his right hip. Regan also notices he carries a shoulder holster, but his movements don't give her a clear shot as to what he is carrying. He puts his jacket back on and walks back to the door.

Looking at Regan, Janos bows slightly then says calmly,

"I am Count Janos Rakozi, Graf von Kadar. Who might you be?"

Back at the room, Tasha nods back to Regan before she leaves. She nods pleasurably to the kiss place upon her hand. Turning to Misha,

"Misha it is then" she says. "It is a pleasure. Please call me Tasha."

Looking back to Raphael, her smile broadens.

"It is a sincere pleasure Doctor Bradford. My Great Uncle speaks highly of your family's intelligence and courage. As for your bodyguard, diligence in a guardian is both commendable and praise-worthy. There is nothing to forgive for Misha doing his job proficiently. We are standing over what appears to be a murdered man, after all."

Taking as slightly more serious note, Tasha continues.

"Count Ra ... Janos and I are here on a mission for the EU. We are looking into the future of loan accomidations for this province. We were not aware that the famous Mr. Styles was even in town. My primary areas of expertise are Finance, Government, and ... how should I say ... countering corruption. I dabble in forensics enough to be passibly capable. Now, how can I help?"

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