Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Fourteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
This is violent so read at your own discretion.
He stares at the dashboard of the AeroVolga LA-8 as the pilot invites him to sit in the co-pilot seat; probably to keep company on the long flight. As the son of a military pilot he was encouraged to use flight simulators. First he learned to fly single engine biplanes such as the Antonov an-2. Next the four-engined Antonov an-12. Eventually he could fly a Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic plane and Kamov Ka-27 helicopter on the simulator. Both his mother and Sofia had warned him that flying the simulator they have at home is not the same as the air forces simulator or the real thing.
He turns his head and stares out the co-pilot’s window. The AeroVolga is good to fly about 4,000 km, two thirds of the way to his destination, before refuelling.
“You realize we are going right across Mother Russia?” the pilot asks.
“Da,” he replies.
“For the first half of the trip will be flying near the Kazakhstan border. After we refuel we’ll be flying along the borders of our friends the Mongolians.”
Kazakhstan, a country once part of the Soviet Union, with a population of nearly twenty million people is a place he had heard of often but never visited. That realization surprises him considering it is the ninth largest country on the planet. Nor has he ever been to Mongolia, the eighteenth largest country with barely three million people. The birthplace of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian horde and a true friend to Russia after the Soviet Union helped it gain independence in 1924 from China and made it a socialist state. Unlike China the Soviet Union accepted Mongolia’s desire for independence in 1992 peacefully.
He wants to keep up his cocky character so he points at one of the meters and asks, “That’s altitude isn’t it?”
“Why yes,” the pilot replies with mock surprise. “You fly?”
“Thinking of it,” he replies smugly.
“Too bad you don’t, I could let you fly while I sleep,” the pilot says with an intentional sniff.
He’s not much of a conversationalist; more of a listener. Acting cocky undercover is a good way to limit conversation. No one likes a braggart.
The radio is on so the pilot knows where any other planes are located. Occasionally the pilot pulls, pushes, or turns the steering wheel. That gives him a chance to dwell on the past. He stares out the window at the clouds and occasional glimpse of land below.
He had thought of getting his airplane license. It seemed natural since both his mother and Sofia were air force pilots. That thought unfortunately creates an ache in his chest.
Not long after the air force allowed women to fly fighter planes his mother called him. Her enthusiasm had made him grin with excitement for her. He had been working for INTERPOL for a number of years by then and living on the fifth floor of an apartment in Hanover.
“Mikhail, Mikhail, Sofia and I will be test flying the new Mig 36D!” she had shouted into the receiver. He was ecstatic for her and Sofia. He knew they would have to retire from their current positions at the air force soon and now they could do it by actually flying a prototype plane first.
Five days later he received a call from the air force. The Mig 36D his mother and Sofia were flying exploded. The two had ejected but considering how quickly the plane burnt up it was unlikely of any survivors. He was devastated. Too distraught to ask what they meant by unlikely. The phone call had been abrupt and he was not allowed to ask any questions.
At the funeral Marina clung to him as flags were draped over empty caskets. His father wept. None of his grandparents were still alive. Just as well he had thought.
A month later after the wreck had been thoroughly investigated he was sent an email message. The air force was investigating whether the airplane caught fire because of faulty work or whether it was an act of terrorism.
Two months later Marina came to him on a drizzling day. She was soaked so he insisted she shower and put on one of his dress shirts while he made hot chocolate. He could see she was distraught. So he covered her in a blanket and led her into his living room. He sat down beside her on his couch and listened while they both sipped at their hot chocolate.
Her voice was wispy at first and he had to ask her to repeat herself.
“I found out who killed our parents,” she told him and he saw her shivering. “They were hired by the same people who killed my father. But at first I couldn’t figure out how to get close to them. I was watching a TV series about the Night Witches when an advertisement came on announcing that a movie called Red Sparrow with captions would be playing later in the night.”
“What did you do Marina?” he asked taking her shaking hands into his.
“I used Red Sparrow tactics.” Tears started pouring out of her eyes. “I guess I can dress up in disguises, just like you, as long as it’s as an escort. I thought what would Mikhail do in this situation? That helped me not to gag as I flirted with the first of the two men. I had crushed up about twenty sleeping pills and poured it into a mickey of vodka. I wanted to find out what he did to the plane. But he was more interested in feeling me up than drinking. So I got on top of him while he was lying on the bed and jokingly poured some of the vodka into his mouth. He laughed and refused to drink. I was furious. I shoved the mouth of the vodka into his mouth and drove my palm down onto its bottom and kept pressing down.”
There was nothing he could say. The man had helped kill their mothers.
“The second one I slipped a mixture of ecstasy and ZzzQuil into a drink I bought him.”
“What happened to him?” he asked dreading her response.
“By the time we got a room he was too gone to try and touch me. He laughed as he told me how he and the other one got jobs as engineers to work on the plane. They added a detonator with a vibrator trigger to the inside of the fuselage of the plane. They were instructed to remotely turn the detonator on once the two female pilots were on board. He also gave me the name of the person who hired them. A fake name but I was able to follow back to who it really was.”
She was gulping in her breaths now.
“I didn’t kill this one intentionally but read in the National that a man fitting his description died of an overdose. The article also said the police are looking for a red haired girl about 177 to 179 cm tall wearing a silver dress.”
She broke at this. So he had pulled her close just as he did sometimes after her father was killed. Her head buried against him he could feel her tears soak through his shirt and onto the skin of his chest. They both had blood on their hands now.