Raisa & Gage

© November 30th, 2002

(co-writing content credit to Lynn (Duinesidhe) & slander, based on actual Role-play)

Raisa Romanov, a unfledged, college-aged brunette, cruises the streets of Southeastern DC in a primer grey Mercedes 220S sedan (with the fins). From a distance, her bearing is noble, but by no means dainty or frail. She parks the Mercedes in a part of town that such a car would never have seen in its prime, and would only see now in conjunction with promotion onto a DCPD Hot Sheet.

Raisa steps out, locking it, surveying a dirty and largely abandoned block of row-houses. She is fair-skinned with ruddy undertones, and long cocoa-hued wavy hair tucked behind delicate, unpierced ears. Her face is rounded, with a button nose and feathery lashes half-lidded over studious, almond-shaped, dark hazel eyes. She is well-groomed, with the gait and bearing of a horsewoman, fresh-scrubbed, smelling of the outdoors. The epitome of "Ain’t from ‘round here."

She begins to prowl the block, heading for a specific house, as if such a wholesome seeming sort would even know how to navigate this territory. But, it seems that she does. She marches up the unkempt walk to a clearly abandoned filthy row house, like all the sister houses it stands with, partly boarded up. She pushes aside a board covering the front door, and slips inside the darkened building with the ease of a seasoned burglar.

She wanders through the building, keen eyes ferreting out the layout of the place… sniffing, listening, lurking room by room, her face shaded by myriad shadows in the unlit hallway, flickering signs of panic or disappointment. Clearly whatever was here, that she sought, is no longer. The house is utterly barren, though it bears the marks of having been once thrown together as a good-enough flophouse for someone. Smelling a touch cleaner than one might expect, various housewares and decor upgraded in that starving college-student manner, though all belongings of the would-be tenants are no more. Raisa makes her way back outside, running a muscled hand through her sweaty brown hair, a puzzled expression in her eyes.

Empty-handed after scouting out Gage’s last known residence, Raisa heads purposefully back to her Mercedes, unlocks it and gets in, screeching off to another street a few blocks down in the same decrepit neighborhood. She turns the car down a particular side street and slows to a crawl, craning out the driver’s window, scrutinizing the squalid sidewalks. The pounding rhythms of Godsmack blare from the stereo of a ’77 primer grey and red-patched Chevy Nova. "Candles raise my desire, Why I'm so far away, No more meaning to my life, No more reason to stay…"

Splayed casually on the hood of the Nova is a lithe, olive-skinned girl; if she’s even 18, it’s just barely. Perhaps Latina, or at least maybe the daughter of one. She is dressed in baggy jeans and a painfully oversized black shirt, over which is a lesser oversized jeans jacket, not unreminiscent of gang-banger’s threads. On the back of the jacket is artwork depicting a female version of Jungle Book’s "Mowgli", with the logo "Wild Child" under it. A wavy mane of ebony hair cascading down behind her, with a red stripe on the left side, her dark eyes staring aimlessly up at a cloudy, Spartan night sky. On each bicep is tied a blood red bandanna. "Freezing feeling, Breathe in - breathe in, I'm coming back again…"

Unbeknownst to either girl, a figure slinks furtively through the back alleyways where even rats are loath to tread, looking intently for someone, or something. For the moment, he does not seem interested in the pair on the street. Raisa glides the ancient Mercedes to the curb once again, about 5 parking places from the Chevy, and cuts the engine. The headlights wink out. Occasional denizens of the block pause to check out the intruder with furtive, menacing stares, but she emerges from the car unmolested. "I'm not the one who's so far away, When I feel the snakebite enter my veins, Never did I wanna be here again And I don't remember why I came…"

The slinking man settles, slumping down beside the corner of a building, another piece of human refuse for all the world notices. Raisa, seemingly deliberate in her invasion, gets out of her car and locks it, aware of the stares, but unconcerned. She pockets her keys and begins walking calmly up towards the Nova. The girl laying atop it continues to look up at the blank, overcast sky, unable to see any stars, the tribal rhythms of "Voodoo" by Godsmack pulsing through the veins of the entire block. "Hazing clouds rain on my head, Empty thoughts fill my ears…"

Raisa approaches her, pausing some yards off, looking up and down the block studiously, not as if afraid, but as if searching for something that she does not find, just as in the house earlier. She hrms softly, walking up within eyesight of the second girl, watching her, making no secret of her approach. "Find my shade by the moonlight, Why my thoughts aren't so clear…"

She stops a couple feet away, ears attuning to the lyrics currently on display. She lifts her chin, and speaks. "Hasn't there been enough venom lately, Gage?" she makes an allusion to the lyrics blaring from the car

Gage Valentine looks over in surprise and hmphs. She pulls a small thing out, about the size of a driver's license and pushes a button, the volume going down to tolerable levels. "I heard y'all are like some kind of militia type group."

Raisa watches Gage in awkward silence. Finally, she replies, "Is that why you never came back?" She swallows, shifting her weight. "Or was it because of me?"

Gage makes a general motion to the street, "It turned out to be a favor. Made me realize this is where I belong. I ain't no delicate lady and I ain't school material." She digs in her pocket and pulls out a beat up pack of gum. She pushes up, swinging her legs over the fender of the car.

She takes a piece of the gum and pops it in her mouth before offering Raisa a piece, but the gesture seems either rebuffed or unnoticed. Gage blows a bubble, "Darren can do what he wants. He can take over, have all the glory and whatever else he wants. I got mine."

"You also watched from Darren's example what happens to lone wolves, Gage." She sighs, scuffing the sidewalk with a worn tennis shoe. "I’m sorry I was nasty. It was a crescent moon, I should have just not talked to people." Pregnant pause. "There’s a reason for what's going on... and you being in the City, you'll end up in it like it or not. I'd rather you don't wait for it to happen to you."

Gage blows another bubble, "What to happen?"

Raisa smirks. "You wanted to sound like you knew it all, Gage. Don't you know that as well already?" She gazes at their immediate surroundings, seeing nothing untoward, and turns back to Gage.

Gage sighs and slides off the car, "You got anything else you wanna throw at me?"

"I'm trying to save your life, and I'm trying to apologize for what I did. Or are you above that now?"

"You're the one throwing jabs, Raisa."

The words no sooner left Gage’s mouth, when suddenly a man appears from behind the car like a malign and filthy Jack from his box, stopping a half-pace behind Gage. Raisa, sensing his movements a second too late, suddenly jumps forward at the Chevy, scrambling to grab at Gage at the same time.

Gage stops speaking, going very still, paling.

The would-be attacker speaks in his streetwise, sandpapery growl. "Apparently Miss Smells so Sweet here's above worryin' about shit like barbecuin' folks that don't deserve it with ones that do." He pauses. "I dunno about the rest of it."

Raisa stops, her hand on Gage's shoulder, panting in adrenaline-induced panic, about to yank her off the car... 'til the voice strikes a familiar chord. She realizes the man is known to her, and to Gage. But he is more vicious and livid than she remembers ever seeing him before.

Cobb 's normally jovial features are lean and feral with anger... he turns his rheumy eyes on Raisa for a moment. "You just back off, Miss Pretty. This is street business."

Gage grits her teeth, forcing herself to not move, "I checked the place over. Shouldn'ta been anyone else in there."

Raisa eyes Cobb... only because she knows him does she withdraw her hand... slowly... looking at Gage for some kind of indication of what to do that does not come. Cobb rebukes Gage again. "You didn't check the building next door, where four of my buddies were sleepin' off a good long party."

Raisa inches back slowly, whuffing almost ferally under her breath.

He continues, ignoring her. "Jacky and them, they liked to drink more'n they ought, but they didn't deserve gettin' smoked like no buncha jerky."

Gage works her jaw back and forth, "It wasn't supposed to take anyone out but the four."

"Yeah, yeah, the ol' shit happens excuse. Well tell Jacky and Moe and the others that. Suppose it was shit happenin' to you, I suspect you'd think different."

"I didn't say it was shit happens, Cobb. That's your words, not mine."

Raisa continues to use Gage’s expressions as her measure of her place here. "Gage.... do you want me to go?" She doesn't look at Cobb as he does not at her, tensing, sensing her own defiance and concern for someone whom she still considers a packmate.

Cobb growls quietly, showing that even a Ragabash has his breaking point... "I oughta tickle your goddamn kidney a good once, just to remind you there's four fellas who's never gonna see another sunrise cuz of you." He backs up slightly. "Walk careful, little missy. You fuck up again, the Uglies'll flinch at you when I get done."

Raisa mutters to herself, "And we're militant."

Cobb is gone in a flash, disappearing as quickly as he’d come down the network of alleyways and out of sight.


Raisa watches Cobb slink off... looks back at Gage, stunned. Gage quickly looks back over her shoulder after Cobb, who is well out of sight. She sighs softly, starting to shake a bit before turning back to Raisa. Gage brushes her hair out of her eyes, "Like I said. I got my four. Bad thing was, it also got others who shouldn't have been around." She slides off the car, "I'm gonna take a little vacation till things cool down."

"Your four what?" Raisa queries. She frowns at the mention of this vacation business. "Things are not going to calm down, Gage, that's what I am trying to tell you. And if you are out here by yourself, after what Cobb just did... I don't even want to think about that.

Whoever shouldn’t have been around... Next time maybe you might end up somewhere you shouldn't have been... and no pack at your back."

Gage smiles coldly, a dangerous light in her eyes, "The four I intended to get were some of the porno guys."

"You went after them ALONE?!"

"There wasn't no one else around to go with me."

"I would have gone with you! I come down here for class, Gage... all you had to do was ask!"

"I didn't think you would. Not after what went down the other night."

"Pack mates fight, Gage, just like family. We ARE family." Raisa looks down a moment, forlorn. "I would have come. Any of us would have. When will you ever understand? You understand the Cherries but you don't get this."

Gage smirks, "I'm an outsider now with them too."

"Why is that?"

Gage crosses her arms, "I guess it’s what Darren said. They feel the change in me and they pulled away. Its been that way for a while now." She looks down the street toward the Cherry's hang out, "That point was driven home when Annie got knocked up."

Raisa sighs. "You said it was some of the porno guys. That means there are still some out there, doesn't it."

Gage snorts and looks back, "I'd have still been sitting around with my thumb up my ass. That club still ain't had nothin' done about it, has it? And those four would still be walkin' around if I hadn't done it."

Raisa raises her voice in sudden righteous indignation. "You don't know, do you. You left. You were just looking for a reason, weren't you."

"To leave? No, I wasn't."

"Seemed like it. Every time it got tough, you always had a reason." She folds her arms, hands gripping the opposing biceps rigidly. "We are doing something about the Web but we're not going in there stupid and half cocked like Darren wanted. It takes time."

Gage looks back, "I ain't walkin away to sulk. I'm walkin' away to keep from losing it. As for that club. We had a plan. We watch, we follow then we take them out one at a time."

"Losing what? And we can't execute that plan if everyone keeps leaving and going off on their own. Like... Hm. Who could that be?"

"Losing it as in flipping out, going furball, and trying to rip apart everything that moves. I hung around, Raisa. Till I was told I didn't belong."

"By who?" Raisa smirks.

Gage gives her a pointed look

"Well, you missed Darren and I both doing the furball thing, you'd have fit right in. If you are going to take everything I say so literally, then get in your car and quit being a fool now. Come home. Or do you just want to listen when it's hateful?"

Gage smirks, "I listen a lot more'n people think."

"But do you hear? Yes, you got a lot done on your own. Yes, some of the cubs are being idiots. Even me. But your luck is going to run out, Gage."



The tell-tale rumble of Oberon's heavily converted bike turns onto the street a block or so down from the pair. Gage continues to speak. "It already did. People that didn't have no part of my past got caught up by it"

"That might not have had to happen if you'd taken us with you, Gage. You see how it went wrong without being planned out better? The Web, all of it is the same way." Raisa glances up at the sound of a vehicle for a moment. Gage follows Raisa's look

Oberon pulls up onto the sidewalk once catching sight of the pair... slows... finally cruising to stop next to the pair. A moment of engine idle as his gaze sweeps over the scene. Kicks out the stand and the engine goes silent.

Rae murmurs, "It's OK, Gage."

Gage glances between the two, looking Oberon over, remembering him from an earlier encounter at Web of Night some weeks back.

Oberon watches the girls a moment, "And what mischief are you girls about?"

Gage shrugs, "Not much, hanging out, talking shit."

Raisa glances up at him. "That's a good way to put it." She sighs. "Trying to talk some sense into her before she ends up on the business end of a tick"

"This close to the Web," he says.

Raisa shrugs... "She used to live here."

"I remember what you were talking about that night in the parking lot."

"Da, but that's not all of it."

He turns and speaks to Gage. "And what has you so blue?"

Raisa looks at Gage expectantly. Gage blows a bubble, sucking it back between her teeth with a series of pops, trying to hide the surprise at the question "Not a blessed thing. I'm my usual happy self."

Oberon smirks, and turns back to Rae. "What’s this about a tick?" He straightens out his duster.

Gage watches Raisa for her reply, which she eventually gives. "Lots of ticks. No particular one... Yet."

"I wouldn’t be too worried then. your blood makes them crazy... they know that. and these in DC don’t seem bent on genocide like most you come across."

Raisa sniffs indignantly. "I wasn't talking about that. They're not disorganized and weak enough. Some, Da, but not all of them."

" …and back and forth... I’ve seen this dance more times than I can remember."

She snorts softly. "You said you would help, when we were at the Web. What changed?"

"Nothing changed about that place. More there than just a few mosquitoes."

"What do you mean?"

"Look at the spirit of that place... it ain’t just dead. It’s bad."

She nods slowly. "Something nasty in the Umbra, that one little Gage and a can of unleaded is not going to cure."

Oberon watches Gage again. "Don’t go in there alone. You wont be coming out. All your death will do is add more suffering... feed what ever the hell it is on the other side"

Raisa looks at Gage. "Da, well you were throwing it in my face we hadn't yet." She looks at Oberon. "No, she went after..." She looks at Gage hesitantly, "…someone... else."

"Someone spooking you?"

Gage shrugs, "My business wasn't supposed to come till after it." She gives her head a slight shake.

Raisa butts in. "Da, well, you accelerated that time table, didn't you, Gage."

"Only on the one thing."

"And if I leave and you stay out here, you're going after the rest alone as well. Won't you. Stubborn to the last."