Meet Dmitri

"Mr. Valia? Hello, my name is Dr. Lucas Shaw. I'm with the Smithsonian Museum and I'm writing a book and I'd like to ask you a few questions."

Doc produces his Smithsonian ID, careful to discretely obscure the century old expiration date.

Dmitri snatches the card from his hand and looks it over carefully.

"This ID expired almost a hundred years ago." He looks Doc up and down, and back at the card. "Why would you forge an ID and make it expired? Who are you really?"

Doc catches his gaze and puts his mind against his. He's a tough old bastard, lived a hard life in isolation. His heart was forged in the mountains around them, and his mind is cool and sharp as the ice on their peaks. He's also incredibly paranoid, almost schizophrenically so. It's the loneliness that does him in, though. He's been alone all his life. Doc hooks on this and reels him in.

"That's a misprint. I am Dr. Lucas Shaw, sir, and I am from the Smithsonian. I've come to talk to you, Mr. Valia. You're very important to my research. May I come in?"

The old man is very hesitant to allow him in, but ultimately is curious to find out what Doc really wants. He motions him inside. Doc tells Mark and Thunderhorse to wait in the car.

The cabin is sparsely furnished. There's a coffee table and reading tables surrounding an old, broken recliner. The rest of the room is surrounded by bookshelves. There's no TV, but there is a very old vacuum tube radio in the corner. There's an appreciable amount of dust all over everything. What few windows exist in the house are covered with aluminum foil and towels.

The living room opens up into a kitchen to the back right, and a closed door at the back left conceals what must be the bedroom, while a toilet is visible in the darkened, closet like space between the two rooms.

Dmitri clears away some books to make a space on the short wooden coffee table for Doc, then seats himself on the recliner. Doc sits on the coffee table. The books are mostly science magazines, detailed technical manuals on a wide variety of confusing devices, reference books of all kinds, and some random pulp mystery thrillers.

Doc produces a bottle of vodka from his satchel. He offers it to Dmitri. "Care for a drink?"

Dmitri takes the bottle from him thankfully, and sets it aside. Leaning back in his chair, he folds his hands over his gut and stares at Doc, waiting for him to do something.

Doc kicks on the voice recorder on his I-Browse.

"What is it you want to know?" Dmitri asks.

"Have you ever worked for VelociTec Stardrives?" Doc asks directly.

"Nyet," Dmitri responds, just as bluntly.

"Have you ever been to Milwaukee, Wisconsin?"

"I have never been to the Americas. I've never left Russia, even."

"Have you ever met or spoken to Nadine McLaren?"


"Does anyone else in your family have the name Dmitri Valia?"

"No, I am the only Dmitri Valia in over seventy years."

"Have you ever heard the name Alyss Valia?"

"No. And before you ask any more stupid questions, I have no brothers or sisters. My parents are dead and I've never had aunts or uncles."

"So you've lived here all your life?"


"What do you do here?"

"I read."

"Do you work?"


Doc is getting a bit frustrated. "What is it you do?"

"I repair fusion generators. I work for Stevil Ludnik's repair shop in town."

"Did you go to school for that?"

"Nyet. I taught myself. I read a lot about these things."

"I see. Is your family from here?"


"What can you tell me about your family history?"

"My family history is the history of Russia its self. The Valia line dates back to the Varangians, pirates who invaded the lands of the Turkish Khazars in-"

"In the 860's AD," Doc interrupts, merely to convince Dmitri that he's the real deal. "Sorry, go on."

Dmitri is more irritated than impressed. "Da. Val was one of these vikings, a successor to Rurik who ruled Kiev for thirty years. His sons were overthrown, but the Valiis survived as fur traders and trappers between the Black and Caspian seas. We escaped the destruction of Kiev by the Mongols and moved to Moscow. The Valias lived in Moscow for centuries, all the way to the time of the Revolution. By then, we were nobles. We had an estate just south of Moscow where wheat was harvested. Our soldiers helped put down the Cossaks in 1670 and battled the Swedes in 1721.

"In the time of Cathrine the Great, the Valias became even more wealthy by buying and selling serfs. When Nepolean came, we did not have to field troops. Instead, we manufactured cannons and muskets and sold them to Alexander I at a premium. Our family was quite wealthy by the end of his reign.

"However, a young noblewoman, Petra Valia, was one of those who joined the Decemberists in 1825. She had visited the west when she was young and came back with different eyes for the serfs under our rule. When the Decemberists were defeated, she was arrested, and our estates and property were siezed. She was sent as a prisoner to Siberia where she lived for over thirty years. She eventually escaped and became one of the matriarchs of the anarchist movement. She died in France in 1852.

"Her son, though, Vladimir Valia, was part of the Nihilist movement. He was part of the Narodnik movement, and we suspect that either he or one or both of his sons, Peter and Michael, took part in Alexander II's assasination. When his son came to power and began killing revolitionaries, Peter escaped to Germany. Michael was captured and killed.

"Peter lived the rest of his life in Germany. His son, Sigfreid, came back with Lenin and the Bolsheviks. He fought in the Revolution in 1905 and helped consolodate the Soviet Republic."

Dmitri clears his throat. He finally pours himself a small glass of vodka. He doesn't offer Doc any.

"Sigfried became a Colonel in the Red Army and fought with Trotsky. When Stalin came to power, he fought against it, trying to uphold Lenin's Testament. He was arrested and executed. His family lived on in Moscow, however. His son Sergi was a Red Army pilot in World War 2. He was shot down twice by the famous German pilot Erich Hartmann and survived. His leg was crippled in the second crash, however. He never forgave Stalin for the murder of his father, however, and so, in 1946, he attempted to defect to Allied territory in Western Europe. He was captured and exiled to Siberia, just like his great-great-grandmother.

"And here we've stayed. The last 10 generations of Valia have been living in Siberia. Sergi's sons grew up in Kytyl as gold miners. Their sons, and their sons did the same. Most of the family died of black lung. My great-grandfather and his father were corn farmers during the Greenhouse Crisis. My grandfather helped build the launch loop. My father worked in the loop's base station at Khandyga all his life.

"And myself? I was a layabout, according to my father. I did not want to mine or farm or load cargo. All I ever wanted to do was read and study. I never had the chance to go to school or buy a fancy education. I wanted to invent. I wanted to create. I had an idea for the Einstein-Bose condensate coolers for the XD-Drive that would've made me millions, but since I did not have an education, no one would listen to me.

"It's funny that you mention VelociTec, because that's exactly who I approached with my ideas. They turned me back, saying I was just some backwater peasant from Siberia with no knowledge of such things. And within a year, they started using my condenser design on their star drives!"

Dmitri pours himself another drink. "I'm lucky I did not tell them my other ideas. I have resolved that they will die with me. Let those boars figure them out on their own. They have no business stealing from me. I know they've tried. That is why I put aluminium foil on all the windows."

"Why's that?" Doc asks.

"To keep out their mind rays. They will not be reading my mind, stealing my secrets. If they want them so bad, they will pay me. So you will tell them that, da?"

Doc is a bit confused. "Me? Tell them what?"

Dmitri's getting agitated. "Do not be stupid for me. You are working for them, I know it. You are a VelociTec spy come to read my mind and steal my ideas. I know it. I know you've connected. I can sense that I've fallen for your trap, in my ignorance and vulerability. I should not have let you in. How dare you play upon the loneliness of an old man! I tell you now, though, you will not get any more of my secrets! Now get out!"


ERR said...

Doc Bluff 15 (6+9) vs. Dmitri Sense motive 30, failed. XP+3
Doc Read Emotions -1 Chi, Wis check 18 vs. 17, Success. XP+17
Doc Bluff 32(19+13) vs. Dmitri Sense Motive 31, Success. XP+31

Doc said...


"Mr. Valia, in all honesty, I am not who I say I am. I have lied to you and I am truly sorry. I have misrepresented myself, but in my defence, I did it to protect you. I have no connection to VelociTec Stardrives, and while I'm certain your ideas are brilliant, I couldn't care less. My name IS Dr. Lucas Shaw and I am a historian for the Smithsonian museum, and the ID card is correct. You see Mr. Valia, as unbelieveable as this sounds, I'm not so much interested in you as I am the daughter you never had. You see, I am a time traveler and I find myself caught up in saving the universe. It turns out that this can't be done unless you sire the greatest pilot the universe has ever known. Her name is Alyss Valia and her mother is Nadine McClaren. Here are their pictures and histories." Give him the I-Browse. "There. I've laid all my cards out on the table. I'm in trouble bad and you are the only person in all of time who can help me. I need to find a person who doesn't exist and you are her dad. I have just come from her would-be mother and I find myself on your doorstep and at your mercy. If you cannot help me, everything that has ever been or ever will be is lost. From all of my research, you SHOULD have been hired by VelociTec Stardrives. You SHOULD have met Nadine McClaren and have found your soulmate. You SHOULD have reaped billions in patents and enjoyed the life of the independently wealthy and pursued the experiments and inventions of your dreams. Forgive my deception from before, but there are those who would seek our demise. And these people will stop at nothing to insure that we wink out of existance in the blink of an eye. You are wise to be a little paranoid and block their transmissions with the foil. That has proven very sucessful in several of the case studies I've read. In essence Mr. Valia, I've come to set things right and I can't do it without your help. I've come to turn back time and give you the break you should have gotten. If you turn me away now, you may as well shoot me in the head, as I could never bare to witness the end. You come from noble stock and I'm certain that there is good in you. Would it be too much to risk telling me a few tales of yourself in the small chance that it might save the universe? I know that this is more than a little to odd, but you are my only hope. So how about it?"

Use a chi and hope he doesn't skewer me with a pitchfork while Mark and Thunderhorse punch various buttons and blow the horn.

Meta: Thanks for the kook. Nothing livens up an adventure like the mentaly ill. You do pen one interesting adventure. I'm only now realizing the world I've stepped into and it is wonderfully bizzare. Keep it up and hope for a good roll.