The daughter of an important Red Line official, Rusalka was always protected from the worst elements of metro life. She wasn't hungry or in danger growing up, and received a solid education. The downside was that she didn't get out much, and her interests (ranging from Marxist theory to mutant biology) are fairly niche. She isn't excellent at communicating with other people. But that never mattered; she was her father's daughter and that was that.
Sheltered as she was, with the potential political value of her family, it wasn't strange that the quiet, intellectual girl had a marriage set up for her. The event was low on fanfare and fuss, and Rusalka was hopeful... but she barely knew the man. And it couldn't have happened at a worse time. The marriage was less than a week old when the final nail closed the Red Line's coffin.
When the Red Line's government collapsed, everything Rusalka ever knew was thrown into a state of disarray. Her family is now either dead or in hiding, and the girl who seldom left her quiet, bookish life now has to navigate survival with a near-stranger as her only ally.
Rusalka was in shock. She'd never been shot at before. She'd never known it was something that could happen, just like that. Her hands were trembling slightly as she packed things away.
What did you bring when you were fleeing your home? What could they come back for, later on? She looked around the room. Surely this was merely temporary. They'd come home sooner or later. Her biggest concern was not leaving anything permanently - her brain hadn't even gone there yet - but what might some ruffian try to loot while they were temporarily gone?
She settled for locking some of the more valuable items in a closet and packing the key to bring.
In the end, she had two backpacks - Anatoly's old military ones - one for each of them. Inside were a few changes of clothes, some of the food from the kitchen, some blankets to sleep on. She looked at the stuffed full bags anxiously, wondering if it was enough. Wondering if it was too much.
His quick response was a saving grace, but there was no second shot. They held on the ground in petrified silence for what felt to Rusalka like hours, but the mob never came. Everything was deadly, terrifyingly silent.
She didn't make any move to say anything, she didn't try to move, she didn't try to fight him off. She held there, stock still in her husband's grip.
When he finally let her go, she slithered away from him and sat up, still well under the bottom of the window. All she did was nod and move to get a couple of bags.
And to think, they'd just finished unpacking.
Rusalka turned just her head. "And they'll what?" She asked with ice in her voice. "Throw a rock at me?"
No sooner had she spoken than the glass of the window was shattered. Not by a rock, but by a bullet. It whizzed only inches away from her torso and buried itself into the wall just over Anatoly's head. Rusalka screamed and jumped back.
Rusalka drew back, mouth pressing shut. Was this their first fight? She heard all couples did that, but much like hard discussions, her parents had never done anything of the sort in front of her. It was certainly the first time either of them had been anyhing other than coolly polite.
She gave him a wary look, turned, and walked back to the window, drawing back the curtains to peer outside again, making it clear that the reality of how dangerous their lives were close to becoming had not yet sunk in for her.
She frowned at him. If not that kind, what other kind of information was there? Or at least, what else would Hanza want?
"My father always said they were just as bad as the Reich. All the same ideals, deep down, only less organized about it." But that made sense. Her father always had been a hard line party member, and wish as little wiggle room as he gave himself, it wasn't a surprise that his daughter was just as stiff about it. "And you just want to, what? Walk over and knock on the door?"
"Hanza?" Rusalka repeated, looking stricken. "But- they aren't-" There was a lot of flowery words she could say about the intense capitalism that ran directly counter to everything the Red Line stood for, but she was too shocked to try.
She placed a hand on the kitchen table. She was not quite so much of a delicate flower as to faint at the news, but the prospect of leaving had never once occurred to her, and she didn't know what to do with the caviler attitude Anatoly had for it. "Information you could provide. You're not- you're not seriously suggesting you'd betray the People to Hanza?"
This was a lot of uncertainty. Rusalka wasn't a big fan of uncertainty. It... misbalanced her, left her feeling anxious. Well, more anxious, in this case. She was a little shocked that he'd actually said the word dead. That. That was supposed to be. Unspoken. Wasn't it?
She looked visibly nervous, and the expression ramped all the way up to shock when Anatoly went on about what might be next on their list.
"Wait, what?" she blinked owlishly. "On our backs? Where would we be going?" She was laughably unprepared for a situation of this caliber.
She nodded and went to the small galley style kitchen to pour from the large metal coffee pot (one of their wedding gifts from some official or another) into a glass. It was still hot and fairly fresh, and she brought the pot along with the poured glass to the table for her husband.
She still wasn't used to this, but at least it felt like what she was supposed to be doing?
The mention of her father, and his lack of communication of late, made her bite down even harder on her cheek. "...How soon is soon?" she asked. And then, in spite of herself, in spite of how much the answer scared her, she said, "Why do you think he hasn't called?"
Rusalka wasn't sure what a normal level of communication between a couple was supposed to be. Her parents, if they got to talking about in depth matters, certainly never did so in front of her. Maybe it simply wasn't a thing people did? She bit down on the inside of her cheek, worrying at the skin, a nervous habit.
"Are you hungry?" she asked. She realized she had no idea what his schedule was, if he ate at work... any of it. "There's coffee." Mushroom coffee, but it perked you up just the same. She'd never had the namesake.
Their apartment was a nice one for the Red Line, but like all buildings in the Metro it was built mainly of scavenged materials and repurposed components of the old Metro. It wasn't exactly the picture of security. Not that Rusalka was thinking of that just then. She more assumed he was trying not to worry her.
"What's next, if this doesn't last?"
Rusalka was so lost in her own thoughts that she jumped when the door opened. Her head whipped around, a net of very long blonde hair following the movement like a veil. Obviously, it was only her husband. After all, who else would it be? But the jumpy anxiety remained.
She wasn't sure who else she would have been expecting. A rioter from one of the other stations, or maybe from this one, charging in to attack her? Maybe a member of her own family, alive after all and seeking shelter?
Her mother had insisted that it was fine and normal and even healthy for Rusalka to move from her home station, the only one she had ever known, to live with Anatoly in his station. They were close enough, she'd said, it was easy to travel from one to the next, they'd visit each other often.
She'd said goodbye to them after they'd helped the new couple move, and that was the last she'd seen of them. The anxiety of not having heart from them in days was gnawing at her. There were bags under her eyes and her fingernails were chewed worse than usual.
With one last glance outside, Rusalka did as her husband suggested and stepped further inside, away from the line of sight of anyone on the street below. "You were gone all night," she said, looking at him. Working all night? He looked as exhausted as she felt. "How are..." she hesitated. She knew a lot of political theory, and very little of political practice, to say even less of military matters, "How are things?"