Theoretical Physics

From the Story Arc: The Charge of the Labcoat Brigade

Next Story in the Arc: Conspiracy Theory by Krasnaya Zarya (Sunday, February 04, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, January 31, 2007)

Saturday

Althea Nagy was not terribly familiar with Founders Falls. Actually the only parts of it she tended to frequent were the gourmet cooking shops and the area near Shyft's apartment--which she had not gone to ever since that horrible moment of finding the place empty and the lab looking as if something had ransacked it. Goddesses, she supposed, did not need brandied cherries. Or if they did, they could make them just by thinking of them.

So she was very careful about finding her way to Sasha and Sofia's home, checking and rechecking her map to be very sure she didn't overshoot and end in the lap of something unpleasant. Snipers were known to be on the rooftops here, and she was by no means equipped, despite her CCCP flak jacket, to deal with their powerful bullets.

But she did manage to find the little apartment building without incident, short-sightedly peered through her glasses at the listing of tenants, and rang the bell.

< Comrades? > she said in Russian. < It is I, Thea. I should like to speak with you. >

< Althea? > Sofia's voice was followed by a quick buzz. < Come in, obviously. >

< Thank you. > She pushed open the door and went up the stairs, hearing the security door lock quickly behind her.

The Rabinovich's apartment could not have been in greater contrast to Shyft's. Cece loved luxury, loved artworks, and had the security clearance and resulting rewards to indulge herself in both. But....there was another sort of treasure here, one Thea heartily approved of. Books, books, and more books. < I hope I am not disturbing you? > she said tentatively, as Sofia closed the apartment door behind her. < I wished to speak to you about something that...Alexei left rather undone. >

< You broke up with him, didn't you? > Sofia carried teacups into the living room. It seemed rather obvious, what with the man's retirement from the CCCP, and Thea looked a little on the depressed side.

< I was listening on the comm to what you and he were saying, but...it is nothing I have not been hearing for weeks now. And... > Thea sighed. < It is not so much that the engagement died. It is that I had not yet brought myself to bury the corpse. > She sighed again. < Yes, I left the ring, and a note, and took what was mine alone and moved back to Ms Dales' boarding house. It is a warm place, and I am...contented there. > She absently rubbed the place where the ring had been for so long. < That is not what I came to speak with you about, however. My parents--my adoptive parents--are still just outside of Moscow, and I think, still in some danger from those who sent me here in the first place. Less danger, because Red Saviour has her eye on them, but still...I should like to have them here. > She looked up, pleadingly. < I thought...I know you have connections... >

< Didn't want Petro to make a military maneuver out of it? > Alex's voice carried into the conversation from his hiding place at the table on the other side of the apartment. He glanced up at her momentarily before returning to the electronics strewn across the oaken surface. < Good idea. Your parents would probably go deaf from his "stealth helicopter". >

Thea chuckled weakly. < Oh no, no. Petro would be--a bad idea. My parents raise tomatoes, not havoc. >

< I don't think you should worry. > Sofia cast a resigned glance Alexander's way. < You get over here at once, Sasha. This is serious business. Look. The truthfully odd part of the matter is that we have far less connections in Russia than we do elsewhere. That's because of several reasons: we are not Moscovites, and we left before the great reshuffling of power... Also, the Russians in exile tend to be friendlier to their own. However, that doesn't mean we can't do anything. >

Thea nodded. < In Moscow is not the problem. They are not young people, they can, and will, liquidate the greenhouse and say they are moving, retiring, someplace where you do have connections, so long as it is in Russia. It is getting them out that is the problem. So they tell me, anyway. We have managed a very nice system of coded letters and emails, you see. So we can communicate fairly clearly. >

< So, let me get this straight. Do you want to move them somewhere inside Russia, or do you want to get them here? >

< Oh, here! I was just saying that they can make themselves quite portable within Russia, but in Russia, they would still be in danger. Here, at least, I think the men that sent me would not be so bold as to come after them. Nor me, either, > she added thoughtfully. < I think they would--what is the saying? "Write the whole business off." I don't want revenge, they don't want revenge, we all just want to be left alone. >

< Are we talking official? Or a disappearing act? > Alex asked, rising from the table and crossing over to the couch to sit beside his wife. < We can snatch them out and smuggle them in, but then they're illegals, which is its own problem. Sadly, there's nothing we can do with the USCIS. > He shrugged. < If anything else, they can stay at Sanctuary. >

< For a while, until they claim asylum. > Sofia inserted.

< Comrade Victrix has had the papers for asylum ready for...since the Council kidnapped me, > Thea replied, glad that at least that much was set up. < The judge has signed them and all, it is only a matter of a date and a stamp if we can get them here. > She paused. < It was fairly obvious, given that half of RPC was looking for me, and that Saviour exploded half of Striga Island getting me, that my life, and by extension, theirs, was in danger. >

Sofia's eyebrows climbed up in appreciation. Her own stint with the USCIS was... not amusing, to say the least. However, Sofia being Sofia, getting the couple out might be the least difficult stage of them all. < Alexander, > she drawled sarcastically < who would have thought your stunt with the New Year's tree might prove useful for something after all? >

Alex snorted. < I recall being expressly told by the Commissars not to pull a stunt like that again. Too many questions caused by rolling blackouts across Europe. >

< But we won't tell them, will we? I am sure you were working on some way to reduce the power costs... > Sofia trailed off suggestively, flapping a hand suggestively.

< Not officially. > Alex grinned.

< We are off-duty now, > Sofia glanced at Thea. < Right? >

Thea pressed both her hands to her mouth, not quite hiding her grin. < But of course! Off-duty and only discussing...theory. >

< Right then. > Alex scratched his non-existent beard. < Theoretically, you could give us photos and tell us where they live. Possibly we could fly to Moscow and meet them. Further speculation might suggest, maybe, that I could set them up with a teleportation tag. And then, assuming that, given this far-fetched possibility were to, somehow, become reality... Then, they might show up wherever we want them to be. > Alexander paused.

< Theoretically. >

Sofia was trying desperately not to spew her tea.

Thea had had to put her cup down to keep from spilling it and tears of laughter leaked from her eyes. This was just like being home in Moscow, where everything that was the least bit...dangerous...was couched in exactly those terms. Americans just did not understand. Well most. Comrade Vickie did. But then, Comrade Vickie was from a spying family.

< Incidentally, theoretically, > Sofia added deadpan when she had finally regained her composure, < I have a... friend down in Moscow, with whom I could pull some old favours. Assuming of course that I am at a distance. I'm sure he could provide whatever we needed, as well as temporarily host your parents until we arrive. >

Alex snorted at the "friend" remark. < Can we trust him for this? > Sofia's glare answered.

< That would be perfect. > Thea felt the burden of worry lift from her shoulders. < They already have a buyer for the greenhouse. Papa is thinking it is probably someone who wants to grow drugs among the tomatoes, but... > She shrugged. < Maybe not. Tomatoes in winter are popular. >

< Moscow is eight hours ahead of us. > Sofia mused contemplatively. < How fast can we be ready for this, between Thea's parents and ourselves? >

< They have been talking about retiring for a year. The buyer has been plaguing them for six months. And he will pay in Euros. They could finalize it all in a week. >

< A week? That long? > Sasha chuckled. < Sure. We can be ready in a week. That'll give me time to even run a test on the new teleportation system. Wouldn't want your parents to get lost in the Paris Power Grid or something, no? >

< Maybe, as a nice change of routine, we should actually speak to CERN and tell them to be ready to snatch the load, Alexander? > Sofia suggested delicately.

< Speaking to people means a paper trail... > He grumbled. < We want this to be clandestine. >

< Not if you talk to that classmate of yours that moved to Germany... What's his name? Susskind. He's in and around CERN, isn't he? >

< Finding people in CERN is easy. Getting them to okay this is hard. But I'll see what I can do. > He smirked. < I've got a week to try. >

< Spare us the 'lost in Paris grid' scenario. > Sofia smirked. < Talk about "Lost in Translation!" >

Thea laughed aloud. She was not worried. She had supreme confidence in both Sasha and Sofia. No matter how often Commissar Bella muttered about "attack laser toasters." If they said they could do it, then it would happen. < Oh now I am owing you...far too many favors to think about, > she said instantly. < I don't suppose cooking would do? Herring salad maybe? One a week forever? >

< Noting to it, actually, > Sofia waved the notion off - though not necessarily the herring salad. < It gives Alexander the opportunity to fine-tune and publish this little gadget of his, for one. Besides, tweaking Naumov on the nose would be entertaining. Besides, when people need to get out of places, we get them out - consider it a Jewish thing. > She bit her lip for a moment < but if you really insist on that salad... >

Thea nodded. < Are you ever hearing what Itzaak Perlman said about why Jews play violin instead of piano? >

< Am I supposed to ruin the joke? > Alex grinned impetuously.

< Oh do supply the punching line if you know it! > Thea smiled. < It is both funny and sad, really. >

< Because they can't carry the piano, of course. > Sofia grinned.

< He actually said "Because it is very hard to pick up a piano and run with it," but yes. >

< A valid explanation, too, for the choice of mathematics over engineering, and medicine over agriculture. Can't run with a field. In any case, you shouldn't worry. All you have to do is send the codeword - or whatever - to your parents and tell them to wait for a red-haired weirdo and his wife. We'll do the rest. >

< And you will have herring salad once a week, and baked fish every two! > Thea vowed happily.

< But this is, > Sofia smirked as she saluted with her teacup to seal the deal, < all entirely within the realm of the theoretical. >