Daughter of the Bear (Blog Seven) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Russia was included along with fourteen other sovereign states into the newly formed United Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R) in 1922. In 1991 the U.S.S.R. was dissolved.
On the flight to Pulkovo Airport he sits down on his economy class chair beside a window. The two agents would be last minute so he imagines they’re in business or first class. That means they’ll disembark before he does. There are advantages to being brought up as a Russian and German. And having a fun loving but very disciplined mother along with a very intelligent but self-absorbed father. From his mother he learned patience, from his father he learned to enjoy life; from both he learned to observe. Right now he needs to go over his plan to get away from the two agents.
As the plane begins its descent he stares out the window at the largest country in the world. Switzerland is just over forty-one thousand square kilometers with a population close to nine million people. Russia is just over seventeen thousand square kilometers with a population of nearly a hundred and fifty million people. The closest in geographical size to Russia is Canada at nearly ten million square kilometers with the United States a close second. As for politics he only followed it when he was working undercover and much earlier when he was conscripted into the German military.
Conscription was mandatory until 2011 when the German army no longer saw any need for it. He was living with his father at the time so he could go to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich to study linguistics and civil engineering. Except for three months of basic training he was allowed to do alternative services that allowed him to go home and continue his studies. His mother called to tell him how proud she was of him when she found out he was being conscripted. On the other hand his father was not happy about it.
‘I hated every minute of it,’ his father told him of the three months of basic training he had to endure. ‘You have many of your mother’s traits Erwin but you look more like me. And we are not built for the physicality that’s needed to be a soldier.’
His father was correct. He was not genetically strong. But his father didn’t know about the training his mother, Sofia, and Nina had already given him in the use of weapons and fighting techniques. Basic training was brutal for him and some others. But he discovered he could be ferocious in his determination and that carried him through the taunts, or the ribbing as his bigger and stronger comrades called it. Like his father he hated it. There were many days he felt like using the killing techniques his three mothers as he began to call his own mother, Sofia, and Nina had taught him and he later taught Marina.
‘Never, ever, use those skills in a boys fight’ as she would call the fights he and other boys would occasionally get into. ‘Only in life and death situations Mikhail and only when no one can report you.’ His first lessons began right after Marina’s father was killed. Sofia was especially worried the families of the dead trophy hunters would come after her and Marina to set an example.’
After basic training he was put into scenarios with other of his comrades. These were war games using laser rifles. The helmet, and vest used in the games were annoying because they didn’t always fit him correctly but he loved the strategy involved. During one scenario he came up with a code using Russian words that he taught to Helmut Schmidt another student of linguistics. They would shout out commands that switched between German and Russian during mock battles that the opposing team couldn’t understand. That’s when he and Helmut were asked to join the military full time. Helmut refused but he agreed on condition that he could finish his studies part-time. A year later INTERPOL asked him to join their organization.
Marina was in the Russian army by then and had her pilot’s license. Like Sofia and his mother, Marina was not allowed to pilot warplanes so she took up acrobatic flying instead. He knew how frustrated his mother and Sofia were that they could only train pilots on the simulators. Mother Russia forgot about the Night Witches it seems until 2017.
During his third year working with INTERPOL he was moved to the Intrepid Department where he dropped Marina’s name numerous times to the directors. He hated that Marina wasn’t allowed to use her full potential in the Russian army. INTERPOL was by invitation only so he was ecstatic when she came to live with him as a new recruit to Intrepid.
As the plane lands on the tarmac of Pulkovo Airport he knows he must put away thoughts of the past.