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Metro: Beyond

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It wasn't often that Dusty got special assignments. The Reich liked him, but he was an American in a Russian nationalist, anti-mutant gang. He was never gonna be at the top of the pecking order- at least, that's what he'd told himself when this all started. Post-recent events, they started making themselves less pro-Russian, more anti-mutant, which meant that good Dusty was getting a lot more respect than he figured he even aught to. Just as well- he was working hard for his MGRs. 

Today's assignment, though? Didn't involve shooting anyone. At least, not yet. 

"So, Hauptmann," a Reich officer stated, pointing at the map of the Metro laid out before him, "in order for us to continue our expansion unabated, we must be rid of the occupants of Oberon station. However, there is much we don't know- strength, weapons, fortification. We need someone that isn't often in our front line, someone who can pass for another wanderer through the tunnels, or a Stalker, perhaps. Can you do this?"

"Not for free," Dusty said, the cigarette between his lips shifting slightly with every syllable. "If I get caught out in hostile territory, I'm a suspicious bastard. I may be good at Russian, but they'll know I'm an American just by looking at me."

"Do you plan on going in your gear, Hauptmann? There should be no way for them to discern you from the common subhumans infesting their station."

"You can tell a lot about the person just from the way they walk, sir." Dusty took a long drag off his cigarette, tapping the ashes on the edge of the table. "I'll do it. But I want my usual rate plus half for the trouble."

"Done," the officer replied. "We will hold onto your belongings until you return. Your mission is to gather any sort of military intelligence you deem notable- troop numbers, movements, positions, armored vehicles, fortified positions, leadership, the works. Should you be compromised, I will have a panzer ready to move down the line, but it will likely not be able to reach Oberon. You will have to meet it somewhere else on the line."

"Got it," Dusty agreed. "Shouldn't need evac anyhow. This kind of thing's not too difficult. I'll report back in ASAP, but don't expect me for at least a few days."

"Very well, Hauptmann. Dismissed."

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The trip to Oberon was uneventful. No longer was Dusty in his military fatigues- he looked like a stalker now, with baggy surplus gear and a tac mask that covered everything below the eyes. Made him a little bit harder to identify, ideally, although he doubted he'd meet anyone from the Reich or the USMC in Oberon. He didn't know much about the station- some of the boys dismissed it with chuckles as 'Polis Junior', and if that was the case, then hell, this would be easy as shit. 

He made sure his Shambler was unloaded and safe, intent on making a decent first impression, before setting off. It wasn't an easy trek to get to Oberon while not looking like a Nazi, but he'd make do.

And indeed, he made do. Didn't take him long, longer than it honestly should have, but still not terribly fucking up his timetable. He had no trouble infiltrating the station. Not suspicious enough to warrant too many glances. 

Now he just had to make sure to stay inconspicuous. The intelligence he needed was sensitive, and someone spying on the barracks or mechanics wouldn't be viewed favorably. He had to get as much information with passing glances as he could, only taking risks when he knew the coast was clear. 

It was gonna be a long couple of days. 

@Dragon @Grimscythe @Morrigan

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Damian was one of the first officers he'd greet in the metro. The man would look familiar but it would be hard to tell because he only knew him a week while under Violet's command. "Gotta take off the mask," he indicated at border entrance. "Show me all weapons and your passport," he said offering his hand out for the expected document.

Damian and his brother Derek, who was standing a few feet away from him, were Violet's god children. When everything went to hell she took them into the Metro with two guards. Andrei and Dusty. It wasn't long after they lost Alice that Dusty disappeared. It was a dark time for the Gregory and Redford family and not one easily forgotten though 20 years did a number on anyone's memory.

"What's your business in Oberon?" he asked the man simply as he awaited his passport and looked up to his face.

@deTimber

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Indeed, Dusty didn't recognize Damian. He felt a dull sense of familiarity, but not enough to even dare being honest about his identity. 

"My name's Basil," Dusty replied, doing his best to suppress his accent. "I... my son. He's been missing for days, now, and I've been searching for him night and day." The former Marine removed the mask, pulling it down around his neck and handing over the falsified documents the Reich had provided for him. Basil Kovács, a cook by trade. Dusty wasn't a Michelin chef, but he could most certainly fake his way around a kitchen. "Last his friends heard from him, he was supposedly headed to Oberon. I figured here would be the place to look."

"My son's name is Michael. He looks a lot like me, but with darker hair. If you've seen anyone like that, I'd be indebted to you, sir, but I need to find him soon. His mother and I are worried sick. I came to search for him here, but I've found no trace of him in the tunnels proper."

Dusty put on his best 'fearful father' act. He still wasn't sure how he knew this man, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he did. It unnerved him. He'd been pretty much sequestered in the Reich stations for years now, and there was no way this little twerp was a Reich's man. Was he?

@Morrigan

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Damian glanced over to his brother Derek as the man spoke. He was a little forthcoming on the information but that didn't mean that the man was lying it could have been genuine concern. "Haven't had a lot of new people in lately," he advised the man as he looked over the paperwork. It all seemed fine and most people knew to stay away from Oberon on principal as they were close enough to Polis by surface that the Rangers could come if they needed.

Besides Damian and Derek there were another 4 guards just at the check in point beyond the doors to get into the station. But the full check in station had many more and was where everyone came through, either from the surface or the tunnels.

"Everything looks fine," he said as he folded the passport and handed it back to the man. "Good luck finding your son. I know how important family is. Just got reunited with my sister recently and we lost her early on," he said moving to the side to let him in as he saw Seth coming from the surface entrance. Damian waved at the man just as he moved to the side to give both men a good look at one another.

@Dragon@deTimber

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It had been a long day out on the surface, most of it spent clearing watchers away from a nest they'd been attempting to build. Seth peeled off his mask as the airlocks closed behind him, allowing himself to finally relax in the safety of the station. He paused to shake the snow off himself, then twisted to hang his mask on his pack. 

Seth shouldered his rifle and made for the checkpoint. Damian was on duty, so he angled for the man knowing that his brother-in-law (or whatever he was) would recognize and let him in easy. It was as he raised a hand in greeting that Damian stepped aside, giving Seth a clear look at the man he'd just cleared for passage. 

Shock slowed his pace nearly to a halt as he set eyes on the familiar face of a fellow - former fellow, at least - Reich solder. 

@deTimber @Morrigan

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He'd bought the ruse. That would buy Dusty some time. All he had to do now was get the information, and get out.  

Then Seth walked in front of him, and the plan instantly fell apart. You wouldn't know it from looking at Dusty, who managed to keep his cool and give Seth nothing more than a concerned cock of the eyebrow, but internally, he was panicking. 'Just my fucking luck that a fucking washout lives here. Son of a bitch. Son of a fucking bitch. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck-'

Time to play dumb. 

"Sir," he said, pretending as if he didn't know the man from Adam. "Have you perhaps seen my son? Anything you've seen, big or small, would be a great help to me. I'm running on nothing more than hearsay, now." 

@Dragon@Morrigan

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In the moment, Seth was experiencing a similar sort of inward panic. What the fuck was Dusty doing there? Had the Reich figured out they were there? 

Or had he deserted, also? 

Seth couldn't claim to know the guy that well. There were a lot of soldiers in the Reich army who whispered about deserting, though few ever took the risk. He didn't know the other man well enough to have been privy to any such desires. 

Whether or not Dusty recognized him, though, promptly became unclear. Seth listened to the pleading question, expression masked even as his mind scrambled. He didn't remember the guy having children, though he was old enough to have offspring around Seth's own age. 

"What's his name?" Seth asked evenly, skillfully concealing his suspicions - though he did glance in Damian's direction in an attempt to measure the older man's reaction. 

@Morrigan @deTimber

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Alex. That was the man's name, Dusty remembered. A deserter, one of the many who whispered about it in the dark corners when they thought no one was listening. Dusty had seen the man around, but rarely had the two interacted. Just as well, he could play stupid.  It seemed that he didn't suspect him of lying, so it was time to continue on with the ruse.

"His name is Michael Kovács," Dusty replied. "He looks like me, but with darker hair. He's nineteen years old, doesn't have any weapons. He would have arrived here a day or so ago if he came here, if that helps at all."

It would certainly be valuable info that former Reich's men lived in Oberon now. That wasn't uncommon to stations nowadays, but it couldn't hurt to give advanced notice.  Who better to counter a Reich invasion than the Reich itself? Dusty would make sure that info got up to his handlers in due time... depending on how good his payout was. If they tried to skirt, well, there might actually be a bit of a twist. 

@Dragon@Morrigan

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The name wasn't familiar. He certainly didn't know it from the Reich... Seth stored it away for later. His sister might know the name. 

"Sorry," he shook his head, "name isn't familiar. What's the kid supposed to be doing here?" he asked, probing for more information under the guise of concern for the man's predicament. 

@Morrigan  @deTimber

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The tension from Seth was clear in his taught shoulder. Damian was actually confused about it. He didn't see the ex-Reich soldier tense unless he was fighting with his sister Tonka. But he figured that was just frustration because she was a little bratty. This was different though and Damian wasn't exactly sure how to read the situation.

There were few reasons that two people that meeting a complete stranger should have put the man on edge. Perhaps, Seth, like many others, just didn't trust someone new coming in.

That didn't make sense. Oberon had people coming and going pretty regularly. Especially, non-Russians. This was the station that a majority of non-Russians because his mother had gotten them together to hold their own against the other factions in the metro. A safe haven by all means.

It made Damian curious. "You know who might know?" she looked to Seth. "Violet," he suggested. "She always seems to have a pulse on these things and I think she's got the list of everyone that comes and goes. Maybe we should go see her," he suggested to Basil. "Or you want to go get her?" he suggested to Seth.

@Dragon @deTimber

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Violet.

Motherfucker

She was in charge of this fucking station? What was the fucking luck? It seemed like Dusty was running into his past just by existing in Oberon now. Fuck it, fuck this, and fuck VIolet. 

Still... he couldn't say no. He was in too deep. Way to deep. If he gave up now, they'd know that this was all a ruse. And even if he was lying, he could feign that he was fleeing the Reich, not assisting them. Hell, he could just say that he'd become a Stalker and was just trying to get free passage. No matter what, all roads out of Oberon led through Violet. Every. Single. One. And that meant that Dusty was gonna have to let the ghosts run loose before he went home and grabbed his Bitch.

"Y-you keep records?" he asked, feigning relief. "Oh, thank God, thank God. If you could speak to this Violet on my behalf, I'd be ever grateful. He should have come by no earlier than three days ago, if he made it here. Michael Kovács."

@Morrigan@Dragon

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Damian narrowed his eyes at the man. Of course they kept records. They had to do something to keep people out that they didn't want there and records were a simpler way then relying on memory. At least to Damian but he was always a pretty well organized person, even as a kid. He had to be. His brother was mischievous and his sister was a hellion. "Lets go this way," he said looking to Seth to see if he'd follow with them as he headed him to an office that was a commonly used interrogation room.

Damian looked to Derek. "Go get her... or Red," he said not caring which one his brother fetched in the moment as they'd both have access to the documentation.

"You said he should have arrived how many days ago?" Damian asked again.

@Dragon@deTimber

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Of course Red had made it out too. Dusty was starting to see all this garbage as a fool's errand, but as they say, in for a penny...

Dusty tried his best to feign emotion. Relief, worry, nervousness, emotions he rarely ever felt but saw almost daily in the faces of the people he passed in the Reich stations. Smiles painted on your soul, because god help you if Stasi found you weren't happy. They'd make you a lot less so.

"He left a week ago," Dusty said, rubbing his hands nervously, "but I don't know which routes he took, if he simply took the main line or snuck about. He could have arrived yesterday, could have arrived three days ago, I don't know. He may not have even gotten here. But he came prepared for the journey. He took my rifle, took my mask. I believe he's out here, at least somewhere." 

Dusty leaned over the table. "I will confess that I... have a past that I would rather leave behind. I believe that my son fears me because of that past, that he ran from our family because he learned about the man his father had been, instead of the man that I have become. God has granted me the grace to change my ways and become a better man, but my actions still cost me to this day. I just... I don't want them to cost me my son. Just to know if he is alive, if he is moving or if he has come here, to Oberon, to get away from me, that would be enough. I just cannot bear the thought of losing him, he's hardly a man grown."

@Morrigan @Dragon

Edited by deTimber
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Seth shifted his rifle in his hands, lifting the strap over his shoulder. He remained quiet until Damian mentioned that one or both of his parents might know. 

"They might," he murmured with a nod. The next question was whether or not the kid wanted to be found. If he was running from the Reich, Seth wasn't inclined to turn him over - father or not. Many Reich soldiers would kill their own offspring rather than face ire from... 

He was brought back from his thoughts by the confession that came next. For a fleeting moment his brow knitted into a frown. The older man's expression seemed remorseful, his tone edged with regret; but Seth wasn't sold. 

"You said he took your mask and rifle," he finally spoke up, "this kid have any experience outside your home station?" 

@Morrigan  @deTimber

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Dusty's attention returned to Alex. He didn't like that all this shit was connecting together. He was lucky to not have been recognized yet, but his window was rapidly closing. If he didn't get the hell out of dodge soon, the chances of someone recognizing him increased daily. Violet had worked with him for months- if she forgot his face, he'd be genuinely stunned.

"Some," Dusty said. "This is not the first time he has left, but usually, he comes back without issue. It was only recently that I started asking myself why he leaves in the first place. I was going to try to talk to him, maybe settle whatever it was that was pushing him away from me, but by then, he'd already been gone. This is probably the third time he's done this. He's gone farther from home before, but normally he'll run off to Polis or somewhere in Hansa. This is the first time he's gone this particular route."

 

@Morrigan@Dragon

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