Torix, Constantine, and Mara could all tell that Krushchev was a wealth of information. They asked him about a group they'd heard about called The Union. From his description is sounded a lot like the Book Club. Since the real goal for their being there was meeting with the Board of Osk, they asked him about it. He gave them the general idea: it was a council of all the bosses that was held at shifting locations within Osk. He said that he might be able to find it for them, then pointed at the vial he had given them. He wanted to make sure they were trustworthy before telling them.;
Mara and TnC went back to find their crew and give them an update. There was no reason for the crew to follow along, so they told them to just hang out around the city. The trio went into the tunnel system and started poking around the negative thirteenth floor. There were lots of dwarves wearing heavy protective gear, and there was a powerful smell of ammonia. Constantine asked for directions to the doktor, and the dwarf he asked told him to follow his nose. Doing so, they eventually ran into a large metal airlock inside of a cave. At this point the smell of chemicals was overwhelming. Torix knocked on the airlock, and a voice called back to them in dwarvish. Constantine asked to be allowed inside to speak with the doktor. A few seconds of shuffling and the airlock opened.
A nauseating wave of ammonia blew out from the airlock and made Constantine gag. Mara took over and tried to figure out which one of the doktors they had just found. It turned out to be Molotov, so they made sure to say nothing about their cargo. Molotov asked them to have a seat, and he offered them some gas masks. They gladly accepted. Constantine and Mara engaged Molotov in small talk, and Torix noted that the shelves were full of vials identical to the one that Krushchev had given them. That was explanation enough as to why Krushchev didn't want the cargo to get to doktor Molotov. The doktor had a large chemical vat off to one side with some kind of creature in it. Half way through their chat, he excused himself and took a vial off of the shelf and poured it into the vat. The creature writhed around for a while then appeared to die. Molotov told them it had invaded his lab a few days ago and made itself at home in his vat.
After that awkward moment they decided to leave, and the doktor said nothing of it. They left and asked for directions again, this time specifying doktor Cerenkov. A dwarf told them to take a mine cart operated by a dwarf named Yuri and gave them directions as to which tunnels to take. There were some interesting sights along the way, most memorable was a lava creek that flowed beneath their car at one point. Eventually the car came to a halt, and they got out. Unfortunately, it left them on a ledge. They could see the door to doktor Cerenkov's lab, but there was no obvious way to get to it besides a nice climb. They managed it and opened the door. They walked through a hallway with weapons and pieces of armor hung on the sides, then entered the actual lab.
Five dwarf guards appeared and stopped their advance.
Leader: Stop! What is your business here?
Constantine: We are here to make a delivery to doktor Cerenkov.
Leader: There are some humans here who say they have something for you.
Cerenkov looks up from his work at Mara and TnC. He gives them a blank stare.
Cerenkov: I don't know them. Kill them.
Leader: Are you sure doktor?
Cerenkov looks like he's thinking about it.
He goes back to work.
The guards hoist their weapons and engage. The van Rijns shrugged, and, having not gotten to kill in a while, welcome the action on some level. The guards prove to be a bit of a challenge, since Sergei, ther leader is wielding some kind of metal torch against them. Ultimately, however, the brothers cut him down as Mara does her best impression of a meat grinder. One of the guards passes out in the carnage and another attempts to run. Cerenkov kills the runner with a booby trapped cannon. Mara has some crazy anti-dwarf flashback rage thing, and slaps the unconcious dwarf awake just so she can see his eyes as she kills him. Her brothers are a bit alarmed to see their sister being so ruthless, but they are interrupted by the clapping and laughing Doktor Cerenkov.
"Brilliant show!" he says. Clearly, Cenrenkov is insane. Nonetheless, they show him the flask, and he takes it and thanks them. He asks if there's any way he could be of service, as he very much enjoyed the added entertainment. Clearly, he say, they are very good fighters, whatever their job supposedly is, and perhaps he could clean the soot and blood off of their nice clothes. They say that would be nice, but if they could get some nicer weapons they'd be even happier.
Cerenkov then takes them on a brief tour of his lab, and they see also sorts of confusing contraptions, weapons, etc. He first takes them to a strange chamber with tubes connecting to it and invites one of them to step inside. The brothers volunteer Mara, and though she is apprehensive she goes in. When she emerges he clothes are clean and repaired, so the bro's follow suit.
After that Cerenkov takes them to an arsenal room and asks them to leave their weapons behind. He asks them to take a metal pipe to Doktor Pavlov, and upon return he will have better weapons for them to take. They oblige.
They get back onto their tunnel cart and head over to doktor Pavlov. They begin to notice that the tracks are starting to angle up the wall. The three have to hold on to the cart so that they don't fall out. They reach a dead stop over a pit. At this time the cart is completely upside down. They hang awkwardly over the pit for a few seconds, then decide to drop. They land on a spring pad that breaks their fall. A dwarf laughs and says thirty seconds. He picks up a grease pen and adds another point on a histogram. They give him the metal pipe and he presses a button and a scroll comes out. Pavlov reads it, and nods. Mara asks him what it is, and he dismisses it as unimportant. He hands them each a metal ball that he says they must hold while he shows them different images.
First he shows them a slide of the flag of Hommeland. They tense slightly, and Pavlov notes it. He then shows a picture of the butchers. They intentionally squeeze hard. Pavlov gives a "huh", and notes that too. Next he shows a picture of Vincent Violet. Constantine squeezes the hardest. There is a pause, then the projection screen falls down and there is an underling with half of his skull missing.
All three of them drop the balls and Torix reaches for his longsword. Pavlov pretends nothing is wrong, and tells them that there are more test to run. They go reluctantly. They are taken into a room with a table, four chairs, and a device with buttons and wires on it.
Pavlov: So. Here is the test. I will ask you the queztion, and you will tell me answer. If you do not, I press this button.
Pavlov: I have underlink who is restrained in chair behind that door. Each one of these buttons corresponds to one of underlink's fingers. It will be removed when I press button.
Torix: Don't you think that that's a little ridiculous? What kind of questions are you even going to ask us?
Pavlov: It is simple trivia.
Constantine: Pavlov, I find it ironic that you, the psychologist, are insane.
Pavlov: Yes. So do I. Shall we proceed?
Pavlov asks them some questions about Osk and it's history. When they get an answer wrong, he presses a button and they hear someone scream in pain. Once the "test" concludes, Pavlov offers them information on whatever they might require. First they ask about the state of Fortuna, to keep up appearances. He explains to them that Dverzistan was not always a rulership of the dwarves. However, after Boss Oskar Borodin took power, several changes were made with regards to the underlings, specifically, their enslavement. At the time of this event the rulers of the other two empires were Lance van Bismarck of Hommeland, and King Fidel Cassio. He suspected some kind of conspiracy, but could not find any proof of said conspiracy. Satisfied, they asked him about the bosses.
Though he had a file on all forty of the bosses, Pavlov decided to tell the three ambassadors about the big five: Yeltsin, Oleg, Zaitsev, Misha, and Kramer. They were very surprised to hear Kramer's name in the big five. Pavlov talked first about Yeltsin. Yeltsin had monopolized security and body-guarding and operated out of Osk. He was very supportive of Kaiser Violet's actions toward Dverzistan. Boss Oleg controlled shipping through Dverzistan, and operated out of Kalashnigrad. Boss Oleg was suspected to be anit-Kaiser, but again, it was only suspicion. He and Boss Zaitsev were at odds over each other's monopolies. Zaitsev had monopolized the prison system, which also included forced labor. Zaitsev was neutral on the Kaiser's involvement in Dverzistan. Boss Misha had not changed from his previous area of business, which was essentially everything. However, it was officially a mining operation. He was at odds with Boss Zaitsev because of his dependence on manual laborers.
Boss Kramer was an interesting story. He was very new to the scene, but had taken Dverzistani sovereignty to heart. He was in the opium business, and had recovered from an addiction himself. Boss Misha was constantly at odds with him. Being concerned with Dvezistani sovereignty, Kramer did not like the Kaiser's involvement in Dverzistan.
This abundance of information was satisfying to the ambassadors. They thanked Pavlov and left for Cerenkov's lab.
Doktor Cerenkov had told Torix, Constantine, and Mara about a secret entrance into his lab, so they decided to try it out. They head up to the tenth level and locate the bear statue that Cerenkov had told them about. They pulled on it's arm and a hatch popped open. They quickly jumped down it, and after a long fall, they landed in the lab. The doktor had finished working on their things and he presented them. It was unquestionably of higher quality.
Torix, Constantine, and Mara start asking around to find out where their crew is. They eventually locate them and start their search for Viktor Krushchev. As usual, he finds them first. They tell him that Doktor Cerenkov received the vial and that they got some helpful hints from Doktor Pavlov about the bosses. Krushchev is pleased to hear that the delivery was successful. They had previously asked him about the location of the Board of Osk, and he tells them. It is being held in Boss Ivanovich's warehouse. They wait around until it is appropriate to appear at the meeting.
The entourage of ten walk up to the warehouse, and the door is closed. Constantine knocks. A dwarf dressed in nice red clothes opens the door and they introduce themselves. He says that they were expected, and he lets them inside. The entirety of the board of Osk looks at them as they enter. About forty dwarves and two humans, one of whom is Cassius Kramer. The one who let them in introduces himself as Leon Lebedev. Lebedev tells the rest of the board that these are visitors from another nation and that they are here on a mission of peace. Torix, Constantine, and Mara take the floor, and the crew stands off to the wall.
They give the rehearsed story about Kallipolis along with an offer of peace to all of Dverzistan. There were a few questions from the big bosses, but nothing they couldn't handle. The unknown human ambssador raises his hand.
Human ambassador: Ambassador Arlington Bevington, Hommeland. Seeing as how you have extended this hand of peace to the dwarves, might I also assume that this invitation applies to us humans as well?
Constantine: It most certainly does.
Torix: However, we would prefer to make the offer in person to your head of state.
Lebedev: Are there any other questions for the ambassadors? No? Very well. Ambassadors, as moderator I invite you to stay for the rest of the meetink as observers.
Torix: We would be honored.
The meeting continues. Bevington appears to be controlling the agenda for the board and Torix can tell that the bosses don't like it. Bevington tells them of the formation of The Republic of The Rainy Desert. Vincent Violet has already acknowledged it diplomatically, and now the board of Osk will vote to do so. At this point Kramer speaks up.
Kramer: I find it interesting Mr. Bevington that you come to us to acknowledge this Republic. Why does Violet ask for our approval?
Bevington: As allies, Hommeland and Osk should seek to act in accordance with each other in all matters.
Kramer: Is that so? Then why does Violet send us things for our approval as if the decision has already been made? Furthermore, why does he send these requests through you? Why does he not come here himself?
Bevington: If you recall Kramer, Kaiser Violet was here at the last meeting to make his requests in person. He is a busy, and his schedule does not revolve around the Board of Osk
Misha: Kramer, let it go.
Kramer: I don't answer to you Misha. I'm speaking for the good of the Dverzistan, and you question me?
Misha: Kramer what is wrong with you? You've changed.
Kramer: What has changed is that I recognize that Violet has no respect for our proud nation.
Torix: If I may. I don't fully understand the context of that statement, but I understand that Violet is not being an equal partner in this alliance. Is this correct?
This got a lot of the bosses talking. Bevington tried to defend himself, but Kramer shut him down definitively. A motion is discussed to remove Arlington Bevington and send him with a letter detailing how the Board of Osk wants to be a more partner in the alliance. Given the gravity of the vote, Boss Misha suggests that they secure the vote of Boss Krasniy, who is currently in Volgostol controlling the Underlings. No votes will be taken before Krasniy's vote is presented to the board with his signature on it. It is agreed. They then vote to diplomatically acknowledge the Republic of the Rainy Desert. The next issue that they discuss is the situation with the Underlings. For the most part the bosses want to keep them in Volgostol, where they have set up a vast Underling ghetto. They have a debate on what they should do with them, seeing as how they will be difficult to control over an extended period of time. Bevington asks Torix, Constantine, and Mara what they think. They say that Bernard would not approve of the treatment that the Underlings are receiving, therefore they will not comment on a better solution besides freedom.
By this time a few people have caught on to the "peace be upon his name" whenever one of them says Bernard. The three Kallipolisians are well-like enough at this point because of their consistent "helpful" input.
Lebedev: Very well, that is the end of our agenda. There is now the question of securing the vote of boss Krasniy in Volgostol.
Yeltsin: Why don't you have them do it? (he points at Torix, Constantine, and Mara)
There are looks of approval from all around.
Lebedev: Well ambassadors, would you be willink to do this for the Board of Osk.
Mara: Yes we would.
Lebedev: Very good. In order to give you the proper authority, we will need to give you a title.
Oleg: How about the arbiters of profit.
Zaitsev: No that is not good enough, how about the arbiters of progress.
Torix: Why not just arbiters of the board?
Misha: Yes, that is better. Arbiters of the Board.
Lebedev: So it is. Arbiters of the Board, your mission is to travel to Volgostol and secure Boss Krasniy's vote on the issue of Mr.Bevinkton and our alliance with Hommeland.
The meeting concludes. They notice Kramer getting up, and they decide to talk to him before he leaves. They tell him that they had common interests with respect to the sovereignty of Dverzistan. He offered to take them back to his place to have a more in-depth conversation on his views. They accept. Before they go, he wants to go the red cafe to talk to Boss Misha. He looks like he wants to kill him, so they remember their place as arbiters.
They arrive at the cafe and walk over to Misha. His wolf Arcangelo growls at Torix and Constantine. Kramer gets right down to business, and starts ragging on Misha about how he needs to be respectful to his betters. A back and forth negotiation ensues, with Misha attempting to assuage Kramer and prevent him from getting violent then and there. At one point, it seems they have a deal: Misha will stop disrespecting Kramer, and Kramer will give him some opium plants for decoration.
Constantines memories well up at this point however. "Don't you think," he says, "that it seems odd that he wants [i]plants[/i] and not [i]processed opium[/i]? Perhaps you should reevaluate this one Kramer."
Kramer realizes Misha's sleezinees and almost attacks him right there, but the new "Arbiters" calm him down. Ultimately it is decided that Misha must respect Kramer, but Kramer must agree to not threaten Misha violently. The agreement is settles without incident, and Misha nods to the Arbiters in approval as he and his wolf exit the Red Cafe.