Daughter of the Bear (Blog Nine) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
This blog has graphic violence in it. If you enjoyed GoT, books by Ken Follett or Stephen King you’ll be fine. If not I suggest you skip this blog.
A bus ride from the airport to The State Hermitage Museum will take just over an hour. He is playing a cheery old man so with his hat tilted over his eyes he pretends to nod off. He fiddles with the corkscrew in his pocket. Unfortunately that brings back memories he tries to forget.
When he was eight they were swimming naked in the hot spring in Dombarovsky. Suddenly his mother and Sofia told him and Marina to be silent. He didn’t understand and started to say something. His mother clasped her hand over his mouth. In the silence he could hear men laughing and coming their way. His mother pushed him onto the bank of the hot spring while Sofia did the same with Marina. Both his mother and Sofia took their hands and pulled them behind a cluster of birch and Russian sage where there clothes were hidden.
‘Get your clothes on,” his mother had told him as she pulled on her own. As Sofia helped Marina on with hers he noticed his mother pull out a wooden handled corkscrew from her fanny pack.
The men were stumbling up to the hot spring. He could hear them bustling about. As they talked in slurred voices his mother pointed at his pants’ pocket where he kept his Shaitan knife. He gingerly slid it out as the men started talking about all the women they would like to do things to. He glanced at his mother and she pointed first at her chest then her mouth then used her thumb to imitate a slashing movement across her throat. Next she moved her hand as if pressing something down. He had nodded and lowered himself into a crouch. As they waited silently he could hear one of the men peeing on the sage. When the men finally moved on he glanced towards his mother and Sofia. Both of them held similar corkscrews.
Later that day his mother took him to a life sized scarecrow kept in the basement of the cottage. She and Sofia had already taught him where to strike the soft areas on the scarecrow with his thumbs, index and middle finger pressed together. She gave him her corkscrew and taught him how to hold it and where to stab it into the human body where it would do the most damage. He relished the idea and started practicing daily until his mother told him to stop. ‘But I want to practice’ he had told her. ‘Do you think you will ever forget now that I have shown you?’ his mother had asked with a troubled look. He had stood still for a moment staring at the scarecrow. ‘No’ he replied. ‘Know how to do it Mikhail. Don’t enjoy it.’ She had told him.
The memory brought back one he detested and wished he could forget. During his third year with the Intrepid department he and Dr. Anthony Carl were told to prepare to infiltrate a drug cartel in Turkey. The cartel had a list of the General Directorate of Security’s officers making it impossible for them to capture the cartel’s leaders. He would play the British buyer and Dr. Carl his Turkish interpreter.
After the Director of Intrepid introduced him to Dr. Carl, they both agreed to speak only Turkish until they arrived. He wanted to understand as much as possible of what was being said. Intrepid’s makeup specialist and Director, Negasi Tesfaye wanted Dr. Carl to look a bit darker and glued a scar over his right eye. He also changed Dr. Carl’s green eyes to brown.
Negasi had told him he looked perfect, pale skinned, blue eyed, and with dirty blonde hair. But you never want to go undercover looking like yourself so Negasi gave him contact lenses to make his eyes hazel. He was told to die his hair bleach blonde. A prostatic was added to give him an aquiline nose. ‘Make sure you have a slight limp’ Negasi told him. He was dressed in very wealthy looking Ermenegildo Zegna Bespoke suit. ‘Not only do I get to disguise you but I’ll also be your home lead.’ Negasi told him as he took measurements for his suit.
‘Just remember how good of a leader I was when you were in Madagascar,’ he reminded Negasi.
‘Very good except I did my own disguise didn’t I.’
‘Yes’ he had grumbled before they both laughed.
He had always thought he was one of the smartest in school. Quiet but smart. Until he joined Interpol where what he originally considered smart was a bit below average. Negasi could speak ten languages and with his dramatic arts background could also imitate several accents. ‘You’ll see Lina every day for a week before you go.’ Negasi told him.
Lina Keller stood a head taller than him, just a little taller than Marina. ‘We’ll work on your posh British accent for two hours every day,’ she said to him.
‘I’m going to speak only Turkish when I talk with Dr. Carl’ he told her.
‘Fine but do it with a British accent. And Erwin, never speak in Turkish while you’re undercover or you’ll both be dead.’ This was said with a deadpan voice. Lina was and still is a tall beautiful blonde with piercing blue eyes. Fools would think her curvaceous form represented a dim interior. Her I.Q. was well above 160 and her attitude was as straightforward as someone on the Asperger scale for socializing.
Before the arrogant British aristocrat drug dealer and his interpreter the Turkish mercenary departed their high end apartment Dr. Carl passed him a second pen. ‘What’s this for?’ he had asked.
‘You have one in your right pocket?’
‘Yes,’ he had replied.
‘What if you can’t use your right hand or get into your right pocket?’
‘Oh,’ he replied. He looked at the pen. It was overly thick with a clip at top but it also had a side slider for a very sharp four centimeter long needle. The body was coated in rubber so his hand wouldn’t slip.
The meeting would take place inside a restaurant. Both he and Dr. Carl had the blueprints to the restaurant memorized. With a limp and a cocky attitude he walked in carrying a briefcase with over a hundred thousand Euros in $500 bills. The bills were especially printed missing only one purple circle in the vertical bar that covers the R and P.
Two burly men in brown suits and green ties met them at the bar and took them to a door near the back of the restaurant. ‘We need to check you for weapons’ one of the burly men said.
Dr. Carl explained to him what they wanted to do. He nodded and lifted his arms up with a grin. Once they were patted down Dr. Carl insisted he do the same to the burly men.
Inside the room he saw walls covered in Turkish rugs of all different styles. There were no windows only an exhaust fan in the ceiling and another door at the back of the room with an emergency exit. A burly man took position in front of each of the doors. Most of the room floor was taken up by a Turkish steel conference table and padded arm chairs.
He stared straight ahead with a cocky half smile as Dr. Carl talked across the beam of the table to a short, stalky man wearing a suit with a green tie and a square gold clip. Two more burly men flanked the man with the gold clip.
He was able to follow a lot of the conversation but not as much as he wished he could. Afterwards he never studied the Turkish language again.
The man with the gold clip pointed at the briefcase as he spoke.
Dr. Carl asked him to unlock the briefcase and open it on the table.
He did but took his time doing it.
One of the flanking men flipped the suitcase over and using what looked like an electric razor with a blue light scanned the bills and the interior and exterior of the briefcase. When he was done the man with the gold clip took out a cellphone sized scanner. The man also took out a wallet and removed a $500 Euro.
As the man with the gold clip scanned and compared the bills Dr. Carl asked to see the deal maker. The man with the gold clip shook his head. Suddenly the man with the gold clip’s face went red with rage, he was about to say something when Dr. Carl leaped onto the table withdrawing a pen.
In an instant he followed suit by pulling out the pen in his right pocket. As he did one of the burly men who brought them in grabbed his arm with one hand and reached for his throat with the other. He raised his left forearm to cover his throat. The burly man made the mistake of letting his right arm go to remove his left forearm from guarding his throat. He immediately jabbed the needle of the pen into what he hoped was the man’s femoral artery. As he jabbed and jabbed he could see Dr. Carl stabbing the needle of his own pen into the wrists, arm arteries, and the necks of the man with gold clip and the guards at his sides. Dr. Carl moved with such fluid precision it looked like a macabre dance of blood.
His own attacker was finally losing strength so he stabbed into the man’s ulna artery. As he stabbed into the man’s left carotid artery, Dr. Carl made rapid stabs into the last burly man.
The burly man who had tried to strangle him to death let out a sigh of breath. His eyes went glassy.
‘Get the money back into the briefcase than get their cellphones and wallets,’ Dr. Carl instructed him as he himself searched through the pockets of the man with the gold clip. When the money, cellphones and wallets were in the briefcase they searched for the deal makers. They found two separate briefcases.
As Dr. Carl placed the head of a chair underneath the doorknob of the door they came in he made a call to Negasi. ‘Pickup’ he said as one of the burly men’s arteries squirted blood over his hand and cellphone. It felt warm than sticky.
‘Open the door,’ Dr. Carl said while grabbing the two deal makers.
He grabbed the briefcase with the money, cellphones and wallets and pushed the handle of the backdoor with his freehand. It led to the back of the restaurant where a dumpster stood. A dark grey TOGG SUV was waiting for them on the street.
As they got into the backseat with the briefcases the driver, an undercover General Directorate of Security’s officer, said, ‘You’re making a mess of the seats.’
‘Drive,’ Dr. Carl had told him.
The mission was a partial failure. The information on the phones was hacked and gave the General Directorate of Security an edge in finding more of the cartel’s drug supplies and members. The cartel would be much more cautious now though, especially with what they believed to be a competing English cartel.
He still had nightmares about that day. Ones in which he dreamt none of the men actually died. Only to wake and know they had. But it meant five less drug dealers. They weren’t just selling to wealthy individuals that like to get high occasionally. They were also feeding it to kids as candies to get them addicted. Often the addicted became servants willing to do anything for their next euphoric snort or injection.
Killing hand-to-hand even for righteous reasons takes its toll. Dr. Carl was on medical leave now. The alcohol he used to forget his good deeds took a toll on his liver.
“Are you okay?” one of the passengers asks.
“Yes, thank you,” he replies. Through his window he can see the green walls and white window panes and pillars of the State Hermitage Museum.