Daughter of the Bear (Blog Two) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page
Finding it very difficult not to write this in first person so if you find an I, me, or my feel free to correct me.
Russian musicians have created some incredible music over the years. The Kalendar Prince by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov is just one example.
Nodding off to the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Kalendar Prince he hears the ringtone for Market of the Northlands. He never expected to hear this ringtone again.
“Hello?” he asks into the phone as he struggles to sit up straight.
“Without effort, you cannot even pull a fish out of the pond,” a deep Slavic accent rumbles back to him in Russian.
He knows the original meaning to the Russian proverb but considering who is saying it; it carries a very different meaning, one that is more exact. “Da,” he replies. The line goes dead. There are at least two and likely three groups listening into his conversations at any time. He expects INTERPOL to listen in for international security reasons. The KGB and the German Federal Intelligence Service are mostly likely listening in because of his dual citizenship. Now he has no doubt Morok Industries has hacked into his phone. He smiles. But does Morok Industries know that the others listening in on his conversations also know there is a new intruder?
He lies back in the chair staring out at the skiers and the mountain. A list forms in his mind. On his phone he checks the flights from Sion Airport about 50 km away to Pulkovo Airport, Saint Petersburg. The earliest flight is 7 a.m. That gives him six hours to get ready and be there two hours ahead of time. The flight will be around two hours long. Then he needs to get a flight from Saint Petersburg to Komsomolsk-on-Amur; another seventeen to eighteen hours.
He’ll go to Saint Petersburg as himself no doubt followed by agents of Morok Industries. But to go to Komsomolsk-on-Amur he’ll go as someone else. Mostly he’ll go in disguise for Marina’s safety, but partially for any agents foolish enough to follow him into the land of the bears. First he needs to make a phone call.
“Yes?” a woman with a lilt to her Russian accent answers.
“Veronica,” he replies. “Mother calls.”
“I see,” she replies in an emotionless tone. “You’ll need seven days of clothes.”
“Thank you,” he replies trying to keep the soft tone out of his voice but unable to. He turns his cell phone off.
Veronica is his wife Anna. Seven means he’s to call her on a bought cell phone with bought time once he gets to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. She’ll dispose of the phone he just called her on. They both have three cell phones at any time.
Anna Vailievna Fuch nee Verilova still works for a department of INTERPOL no one in the general public will ever hear about. If they do they will be killed along with anyone they spoke to. He doesn’t find this immoral; just a necessary ideology for the Earth’s safety.
After all these years he has an epiphany. Unlike Marina, Anna is like him; plain.
It initially drove Marina crazy when she found out he would be a field spy while she remained at the head office of INTERPOL’s Intrepid department. The word intrepid fascinates him. When he was sixteen his mother insisted he read both the Russian and German translation of William Stevenson’s A Man Called Intrepid about a Canadian businessman who initiated a worldwide intelligence network to defeat Nazi Germany. Very fascinating that the Canadian businessman’s name is William Stephenson but with no relation to the author. The book taught him so much about undercover work, the importance of secrecy and accurate information, and of course how lethal misinformation is that he insisted Marina read both his copies when she turned ten.
Marina is too beautiful and noticeable to do feel work. Like Anna Vasilyevna Chapman she would have to be a socialite to work what is known as outside of cover. It would be impossible for her to gather information without being recognized.
He remembers how his relationship with Anna blossomed. She is five centimeters shorter than he is; American’s would say she is 5’4”. Her face has a few freckles but that is the only noticeable characteristic. From a distance she is plain. It was only when he got up closer to her that he saw the sparkle in her average blue eyes. She is neither busty nor curvy. For two years they never conversed. He doesn’t recall why but one day as they passed each other in the Intrepid department’s hall, he said hello to her in English. Much to his amusement she replied hello back in French. As time went by he would say hello to her in Italian, Spanish, and Arabic. She always replied back in a different language except Arabic. She asked him what language he was speaking and when he told her she asked if he would teach her. Except when they were in the field they had been together ever since.
He is still surprised she stays with him considering the first time she met Marina.
Marina came to visit him at his apartment in Moscow. She came of course with a large pad of drawing paper, charcoal, in case he didn’t have any. Since they were young Marina insisted he draw her nude every few years so she could study how age changes the female body when she was older. He found it awkward after first but over the years he just shrugged his shoulders and drew. She would sit on a chair bare naked with one leg crossed over the other. Her chin always rested on her left hand while she smiled. It wasn’t a very revealing pose and he was happy about that. He never suggested a different pose and his sketches got better over the years but it was the only time he did artwork so they were simple.
At that time Anna had just moved in with him and when Marina arrived full of vigour and stories he had forgotten to mention that. He didn’t even hear the door open he was so focused on trying to improve his artistry. That changed when he heard something crash to the floor. In an instant he had an envelope opener in the shape of a sword in his hand and was crouched by the entrance to the small living room. What he found disturbing is that Marina just sat in the chair. Obviously she had already seen who it was.
“Anna, I’m Marina,” she said with a smile.
“She’s like my little sister, Anna,” he said rapidly. “The one I told you about.”
“Naked,” Anna gasped.
He had given up trying to have relationships before meeting Anna. Whenever Marina showed up the other girls just crept away. So he felt crestfallen.
“Yes, look,” he told her pointing at his work.
She glanced at it, looked at Marina, tore his work off the pad and said, “Go get us something to eat.”
He was dumbfounded as Anna took up the piece of charcoal and started giving Marina instructions on the pose she wanted to sketch.
Since then whenever Marina shows up to be sketched Anna does it and he goes out to get takeout food and a bottle of Fangoria Cru Lermont Cabernet Sauvignon or Abrau-Dorso, “Imperial” Brut Rose. But now Marina is missing.